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|iio THE 










(in Four Volumes) 










M.A., D.D. 






First Published . 
Second Edition 

October 2fth 

JUL 3 1 





OF the five Books which make up this work, the First 
Book relates generally the history of the fortunes of 
the Church in Rome in the first days. 

The foundation stories of the Roman congregations were 
laid largely by the Apostles Peter and Paul Peter, so with 
one accord say the earliest contemporary writers, 1 being the 
first apostle who preached in Rome. Paul, who taught many 
years later in the Capital, was also reckoned as a founder 
of the Roman Church ; for his teaching, especially his Christ- 
ology, supplemented and explained in detail the teaching of 
S. Peter and the early founders. 

The First Book relates how, after the great fire of Rome 
in the days of Nero, the Christians came into prominence, but 
apparently were looked on for a considerable period as a 
sect of dissenting Jews. 

From A.D. 64 and onwards they were evidently regarded 
as enemies of the State, and were perpetually harassed and 
persecuted. No real period of " quietness " was again enjoyed 
by them until the famous edict of Constantine the Great, 
A.D. 313, had been issued. Although, through the favour of 
the reigning Emperor, a temporary suspension of the 
stern law of the State, sometimes lasting for several years, 
left the Christian sect for a time, comparatively speaking, 
at peace. 

The Persecutions, which began in the days of Nero, with 
varying severity continued all through the reigns of the 
Flavians (Vespasian, Titus, Domitian). 

1 These are quoted on pp. 13-20 of Book I. 


Nerva, who succeeded Domitian, only reigned two years, 
and was followed by the great Trajan : still the persecution 
of the sect continued. This we learn from Pliny s letter to 
Trajan, circa A.D. 111-113. Hadrian, who followed Trajan, 
virtually pursued the same policy. 

In the latter years of Hadrian, from A.D. 134-5, tne result 
of the great Jewish rebellion definitely and for ever separated, 
in the eyes of the government, the Christian from the Jew. 
Henceforth the Jew generally pursued his quiet way, and 
found new ideals, new hopes. The State feared the Jew no 

Not so the Christian. Rome saw clearly now that a new 
and influential sect had arisen in their midst ; a sect absolutely 
opposed to the old Roman sacred traditions and worship, a 
sect, too, that evidently possessed some mighty secret power 
which enabled the Christians fearlessly to defy the magistracy 
of the Empire. This partly accounts for the greater severity 
of the persecution under the Antonine Emperors. 

The policy of the Antonines (Pius and Marcus), which 
endeavoured to restore and to give fresh life to the old Roman 
traditions and worship, which they looked upon as indissolubly 
bound up with the greatness and power of Rome, was absolutely 
hostile to the spirit of Christian thought and teaching. 

The First Book brings the history down to A.D. 180, the date 
of the death of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 

The " Inner Life " of the Christian congregations is now 
dwelt on, and forms the subject-matter of Books II., 
III., IV. 

The subject-matter of the Second Book is the everyday life 
of the Christian in the first, second, and third centuries, during 
which period the religion of Jesus of Nazareth was in the eyes 
of the Roman government an unlawful cult, and its adherents 
were ever liable to the severest punishment, such as confisca 
tion of their goods, rigorous imprisonment, torture, and even 


After dwelling on the question of the numbers of Chris 
tians in very early times, their public assemblies or meetings 
together are described with considerable detail in Book II. 
The importance of these " meetings " in early Christian life is 
dwelt upon. What took place at these gatherings is commented 
upon at considerable length. The position occupied by the 
slave at these " meetings," and in Christian society generally, 
is examined briefly. 

Some of the various difficulties which Christians in the age 
of persecution had to face, and the way by which these diffi 
culties were combated, are described. 

Instruction as to the way of meeting the difficulty of life 
for a Christian living in pagan Rome, was given by two 
different schools of thought. A sketch is given of (i) " Rigour- 
ists," and (2) of the " gentler and more practical " schools 
which strove to accommodate the Christian life with the life 
of the ordinary Roman citizen. 

The important part played by the " Rigourist " or ascetic 
school in the ultimate conversion of the Roman World to 
Christianity is examined. 

Finally, some of the inducements are indicated which per 
suaded the Christian of the first three centuries to endure 
with brave patience the hard and dangerous life which was 
ever the earthly lot of the followers of Jesus. 

The Third Book treats especially of the hard and painful 
nature of the " life " which, from A.D. 64, was the lot of the 
Christian in the Roman Empire. For the members of the 
community ever lived under the dark shadow of persecution. 
The severity of the persecution varied from time to time, but 
the dark shadow lay on them, and constantly brooded over all 
their works and days. We possess no direct detailed history 
of this state of things, but all the early contemporary writings 
of Christians, a good many of which, whole or in fragments, 
have come down to us, are literally honeycombed with notices 
bearing on this perpetual apprehension ; and indeed so real, so 


constant was the danger, and so grave were the consequences 
to Christianity of any flinching in the hour of trial, that among 
the congregations of the first days, numerous schools existed 
for the purpose of training men and women to endure the 
sufferings of martyrdom. 

The number of martyrs in these early years has been 
probably understated. Pagan contemporary writers of the 
highest authority, casually, but still definitely, allude to the 
great numbers of victims, while the tone of early Christian 
writings (already referred to) is deeply coloured with the 
pathetic memories of these blood-stained days. 

Besides the references even of eminent pagan authorities 
and the perpetual allusions in early Christian writings to 
the great numbers of Martyrs and Confessors, a somewhat 
novel testimony to the vast number of martyrs is quoted 
here at some length from the history of the Catacombs, where 
the numbers of these Confessors are again and again dwelt on 
in the " handbooks " to the Roman subterranean cemeteries, 
compiled in the fifth and following centuries as " guides " 
for the crowds of pilgrims from foreign lands visiting Rome. 
These " Pilgrim-guides," several of which have in later years 
come to light, have been recently made the subject of careful 

The Fourth Book is devoted exclusively to the story of 
the Roman Catacombs. In the course of the second half of 
the nineteenth century, the vast subterranean City of the 
Dead, known as the Roman Catacombs, has been in parts 
patiently excavated, and carefully studied by eminent scholars. 
This study, which is still being actively pursued, has thrown 
much light upon the " life " lived among the early generations 
of Christians. The inscriptions and epitaphs graved and 
painted, the various symbols carved upon the countless 
tombs in the Catacombs, have told us very much of the 
relations between the rich and the poor. They have disclosed 
to us something of the secret of the intense faith of these early 


believers on the " Name," and have shown us what was the 
sure and certain hope which inspired their wonderful endurance 
of pain and agony, and their marvellous courage in the hour 
of trial. 

All this and much more the inscriptions on the thousand 
thousand graves, the dim fading pictures, the rough carvings, 
speak of in a language none can mistake. It is, indeed, a 
voice from the dead, bearing its strange, weird testimony 
which none can gainsay or doubt. 

The work of excavation and the patient study of these 
Catacombs are yet slowly proceeding, but from what has been 
already discovered we have learned much of the " Inner Life " 
of this early Christian folk. 

The history of these wonderful Catacombs, this subterranean 
city of the dead beneath the suburbs of ancient Rome, is told 
at some length and with considerable detail in the Fourth 

The Fifth Book may be considered as a supplement to the 
work, which in the first four Books has dwelt on (i) the very 
early history, and (2) on the " Inner Life " of the Christian 
Church in the first three centuries, especially in Rome. 

Christianity sprang from the heart of the Chosen People, 
the Jews. The Divine Founder in His earthly life was pleased 
to be a Son of the Chosen People, and His disciples, who laid 
the early stories of the Faith, were all Jews, as were the 
earliest converts to the religion of Jesus. 

The history of the Jews their past and present condition- 
is indissolubly bound up with the records of Christianity. 
It constitutes the most important confirmation which we 
possess of the truth of early Christian history. It is the 
weightiest of all evidential arguments here, and it cannot be 
refuted or disproved. 

The general account of the Chosen People before the 
coming of Messiah is well known, and the historical accuracy 
of the Old Testament records is generally admitted. But the 


memories of the fortunes of the Jewish race after A.D. 70, when 
the Temple and City were destroyed, and when the heart of 
Judaism, as it were, ceased to beat, are comparatively little 

The Fifth Book tells something of that eventful history. 
It sketches first, very briefly, the last fatal wars of the Jews. 
Then it tells how directly after the Temple was burnt a 
remarkable group of Rabbis arose, who, undismayed by what 
seemed the hopeless ruin of their race, at once proceeded to 
the reconstruction of Judaism upon totally new foundation 

These strange and wonderful scholars gathered together 
a mass of memories, traditions, and precepts which from the 
days of Moses had gradually been grouped round the sacred 
Torah, the Law of the Lord, and which had formed the 
subject-matter of the teaching of the Rabbinic schools of the 
Holy Law during the five centuries which had elapsed since 
the Return from the Captivity. 

All these memories traditions comments, the great 
scholar Rabbis and their disciples arranged, codified, ampli 
fied. This work went on for some three hundred years 
or more ; their labours resulted in the production of the 

The great object of this marvellous book, or rather col 
lection of books, the Talmud, was the glorification of Israel ; 
but no longer as a separate, a distinct nation, but what was 
far greater, as a separate People, a People specially beloved 
of God, for whom a glorious destiny was reserved in a remote 
future, a destiny which only belonged to the Jews. 

In the several sections of this Fifth Book the Talmud is 
described : the materials out of which it was composed, the 
method of the composition, the marvellous power which it 
exercised upon the sad Remnant of the Jewish people, how 
it bound them, exiles though they were in many lands, and 
kept them together, all this is told at some length. 


The ten or twelve millions of Jews, scattered through 
many hostile nations, living in the world of to-day, more 
powerful, more influential by far than they were in the golden 
age of David and Solomon, linked together by a bond which 
has never snapped, are indeed an ever-present evidence of 
the truth of the story of the early Christians dwelt on in the 
first four Books of this work. 






A sketch of the early Jewish colony in Rome Allusion to Jews 
by Cicero Favour shown them by Julius Caesar Mention 
of Jews by the great poets of the Augustine age Character 
istic features and moral power of Jews Their numbers in 
the days of Nero ... .3 



Into this colony of Jews came the news of the story of Jesus Christ 
Was S. Peter among the first preachers of Christianity 
in Rome ? Quotations from early Christian writers on 
this subject Traditional memories of S. Peter in Rome . 7 



Quotations from patristic writers of the first three centuries, 
bearing on the foundation of the Church in Rome, including 
the oldest Catalogues of the Bishops of Rome Deduction 
from these quotations . . . . . -13 




S. Paul in Rome His share in laying the foundation stories 
in the Capital Paul s Christology more detailed than that 
contained in S. Mark s Gospel, which represents S. Peter s 
teaching . . . . . . .21 




The great fire of Rome in the days of Nero brought the unnoticed 
sect of Christians into prominence The games of Nero 
Never again after A.D. 64 did Christians enjoy " stillness " 
The policy of the State towards them from this time 
was practically unaltered . . . . .2 



Silence respecting details of persecutions in pagan and in Chris 
tian writings Reason for this These writings contain little 
history ; but the Christian writings are coloured with the daily 
expectation of death and suffering In spite of persecution 
the numbers of Christians increased rapidly What was the 
strange attraction of Christianity ? Persecution of the sect 
under the Flavian Emperors Vespasian, Titus, Domitian . 31 


The correspondence between Trajan and Pliny, and the Im 
perial Rescript Genuineness of this piece in Pliny s 
Letters ..... 45 



Nerva Character of Trajan Story of correspondence- here 
referred to Pliny s Letters Reply of Trajan, which con 
tained the famous Rescript Tertullian s criticism of Re 
script Pliny s Letters They were no ordinary letters, but 
were intended for public reading Pliny s character The 
vogue of writing letters as li terary pieces for public reading 
Pliny s Letters briefly examined The letter here under 
special consideration Its great importance in early 
Christian history . . . . . 4! 



Letters of public men considered as pieces of literature After 
Trajan there were very few Latin writings until the close 
of the fourth century In that period some celebrated 
letters again appear (written by Symmachus and by Sidonius 
Apollinaris a few years later) These letters were evidently 
written as pieces of li terature intended for public circulation . 6 





Adoption of favourite letter-form as literary pieces in Epistles 

of the New Testament, and in letters of Apostolic Fathers . 69 



Hadrian His life of travel His character Early policy 
towards Christians He insults Christianity in his building 
of Aelia Capitolina on site of Jerusalem The great Jewish 
war Its two results (a) Complete change in the spirit of 
the Jews (6) A new conception of the Christian sect on 
part of Roman Government It was now recognized that 
the Christian was no mere Jewish dissenter, but a member 
of a distinct sect, dangerous to Roman policy . . 7S 



Last years of Hadrian Persecution of Christians more pro 
nounced Undoubted authorities for this graver position of 
Christians throughout the Empire Table showing succes 
sion of Antonines to the Empire . . . .81 



Character of Antoninus Pius His intense love for Rome His 
determination to restore the old simple life to which Rome 
owed her greatness His devotion to ancient Roman tradi 
tions, and to the old Roman religion Antoninus Pius and 
his successor Marcus lived themselves the simple austere life 
they taught to their court and subjects . . .84 



Reason of the Antonines marked hostility to the Christian sect 
The Christians stood resolutely aloof from the ancient 
religion which these two great sovereigns believed was indis- 
solubly bound up with the greatness of Rome With such 
views of the sources of Roman power and prosperity, only 
a stern policy of persecution was possible This policy, 
pursued in days of Pius, was intensified by his yet greater 
successor Marcus The common idea that the Christians were 



tolerated in the days of the Antonines must be abandoned 
Their sufferings under the rule of these great Emperors, 
especially in the days of Marcus, can scarcely be exaggerated 9 1 





Certain reasons to which the rapid acceptance of Christianity was 
owing The great numbers of the early converts is borne 
witness to by pagan authors, such as Tacitus and Pliny, and 
by Christian contemporary writers such as Clement of Rome, 
Hermas, Irenaeus, and others The testimony of the Roman 
catacombs described in detail in Fourth Book is also re 
ferred to ....... 102 



These " assemblies " constituted a powerful factor in the 
acceptance and organization of the religion of Jesus 
Their high importance is recognized by the great teachers of 
the first days Quotations from these are given . , 107 



Information respecting these early meetings of Believers is sup 
plied by leading Christian teachers Quotations from these 
are given . . . . . . .no 



A general picture of one of them by Justin Martyr (A ) Dogmatic 
teaching given in these meetings (J5) Almsgiving Is shown 
to be an inescapable duty Is pressed home by early 
masters of Christianity on the faithful All offerings made 
were, however, purely voluntary No communism was ever 


taught or hinted at in the early Church (C) Special 
dogmatic instruction respecting the value of almsgiving was 
given by some early teachers Several of these instructions 
are given here (D) Apart from this somewhat strange dog 
matic teaching on the value of almsgiving, the general duty 
of almsgiving was most strongly impressed on the faithful 
Passages emphasizing this from very early writers are here 
quoted () Special recipients of these alms are particu 
larized ; amongst these, in the first place, widows and 
orphans, and the sick, appear (F) These alms in some 
cases were not to be confined to the Household of Faith 
(G) Hospitality to strangers is enjoined References here are 
given from several prominent early teachers Help to 
prisoners for the Name s sake enjoined Assistance to be 
given to poorer Churches is recommended (H) Burial 
expenses for the dead among the poorer brethren are to be 
partly defrayed from the " alms " contributed at the 
assemblies, partly from private sources Lactantius, in his 
summary of Christian duties, dwells markedly on this duty 
Important witness of the Roman catacombs here . - 



Position in Christian society How the slave was regarded in 
the " assemblies " Paulinus of Nola quoted on the general 
Christian estimate of a slave How this novel view of the 
slave was looked on by pagans . . . 1 34 

A general summary of the effect which all this teaching current 
in the primitive " assemblies " had on the policy and work 
of the Church in subsequent ages . . . .137 



Difficulties in common life for the Christian who endeavoured to 
cany out the precepts and teaching given in the " assem 
blies " are sketched In family life In trades In the 
amusements of the people In civil employments In the 
army In matters of education A general summary of 
such difficulties is quoted from De Broglie (I Eglise et 
I Empire) . . . . . . .140 





Two schools of teaching, showing how these difficulties were to 
be met, evidently existed in the early Church (A) The 
school of Rigourists Tertullian is a good example of a 
teacher of this school Effect of this school on artisans 
On popular amusements On soldiers of the Legions On 
slaves On family life From this stern school came the 
majority of the martyrs (#) The gentler and more practical 
school exemplified in such writings as the Dialogue of 
Minucius Felix and in writings of Clement of Alexandria, 
etc Results of the teaching of the gentler school Art was 
still possible among Christians, although permeated with 
heathen symbols The Christian might still continue to 
live in the Imperial court might remain in the civil 
service in the army, etc. Examples for such allowances 
found in Old Testament writings (C) The Rigourist school 
again dwelt on Its great influence on the pagan empire 
The final victory of Christianity was largely owing to the 
popular impression of the life and conduct of followers of 
this school This impression was voiced by fourth century 
writers such as Prudentius and Paulinus of Nola, and is 
shown in the work of Pope Damasus in the catacombs . .144 



(^4) Freedom from ever-present fear of death S. Paul, 
Ignatius, and especially epitaphs in the Roman cata 
combs are referred to here (J9) New terminology 
for death, burial, etc., used (C) The ever-present 
consciousness of forgiveness of sins (D) Hope of 
immediate bliss after death The power of the revela 
tion of S. John in early Christian life () Was 
Christian life in the early centuries after all a dreary 
existence, as the pagans considered it ? . .153 




A.D. 64-A.D. 1 80 


The early Church remained continually under the veiled shadow of 
persecution This state of things we learn, not from the "Acts 
of the Martyrs," which, save in a certain number of instances, 
are of questionable authority, but from fragments which 
have come down to us of contemporary writings Extracts 
from two groups of the more important of these are quoted . 163 



First Group. From writings of apostles and apostolic men, 
including the Epistle to the Hebrews i Peter Revelation 
of S. John First letter of S. Clement of Rome The seven 
genuine letters of S. Ignatius . . . . .166 



Second Group. Early writings, dating from the time of Trajan to 
the death of Marcus Antoninus (A.D. 1 80) ; including "Letters 
of Pliny and Trajan " " Letter to Diognetus " " The 
Shepherd of Hermas " " ist Apology of Justin Martyr "- 
" Minucius Felix " " Writings of Melito of Sardis "- 
" Writings of Athenagoras " " Writings of Theophilus of 
Antioch " " Writings of Tertullian " the last-named a 
very few years later, but bearing on same period . 177 



The sight of the martyrs endurance under suffering had a marked 
effect on the pagan population. This was noticed and 
dreaded by the Roman magistracy. Efforts were constantly 
made by the Government to arrest or at least to limit the 
number of martyrs ... . 193 




The Church conscious of the powerful effect of a public martyr 
dom upon the pagan crowds established a training for 
a preparation in view of a possible martyrdom This 
training included : (a) A public recitation in the congregations 
of Christians of the " Acts," " Visions," and " Dreams " of 
confessors (6) The preparation of special manuals prepared 
for the study of Christians In these manuals our Lord s 
words were dwelt on (c) A prolonged practice of austerities, 
with the view of hardening the body for the endurance 
of pain . . . . . . . 197 



Certain of Tertullian s references to this preparation, and to the 
austerities practised with this view, are quoted. (His words, 
written circa A.D. 200, indicate what was in the second 
century a common practice in the Church.) S. Ignatius s 
words in his letter to the Roman Church are a good example 
of what was the use of the Church in the early years of the 
second century Some of the words in question are quoted . 202 




Christian tradition by no means exaggerates the number of 
martyrs the contrary, indeed, is the case In the first two 
hundred and fifty years the general tone of the early 
Christian writings (above quoted) dwells on those blood 
stained days But the great pagan authors of the second 
century, Tacitus and Pliny, are the most definite on the 
question of the vast number of martyrs Here is cited a new 
piece of evidence concerning these great numbers from 
notices in the " Pilgrim Itineraries " or " Guides " to the 
catacombs of the sixth and following centuries These tell 
us what the pilgrims visited The vast numbers of martyrs 
in the different cemeteries again and again are dwelt upon . 207 


List of the various cemeteries and their locality, with special notice 

of numbers of martyrs buried in each . . . .210 





The " Monza " Catalogue made for Queen Theodolinda by 
Gregory the Great, with notices of number of martyrs from 
the catalogue in question Inscriptions of Pope Damasus 
References by the poet Prudentius on the number of martyrs . 214 




General summary, allowing for some exaggeration in the "Pilgrim" 
Guides and in the "Monza" Catalogue, on the great numbers 
of these confessors and martyrs . . . .215 



The nature of the catacombs witness to the secret of the " Inner 
Life " of the Church A brief sketch of the contents of the 
Fourth" Book . . . . . .219 


Early researches Their disastrous character De Rossi His 
view of the importance of the testimony of the catacombs 
in early Christian history Much that has been considered 
legendary is really historic Witness of catacombs to the 
faith of the earliest Christians .... 223 



Among the materials with which De Rossi worked may be cited : 
Acta Martyrum of S. Jerome, Liber Pontificalis, the 
" Pilgrim Itineraries," and the " Monza " Catalogue, 
which is specially described Decoration of certain crypts 
Basilica (ruins) above ground Luminaria Graffiti of 
pilgrims Inscriptions of Pope Damasus in situ, and also 
preserved in ancient syllogae ..... 226 



Certain of his more important discoveries in the cemeteries of 
SS. Domitilla, Priscilla, Callistus The yet later discoveries 
of Marucchi and others . . . . .230 



(i) The Vatican cemetery and the groups of catacombs on the 

right bank of the Tiber . . . . .232 


(2) On the Via Ostiensis Basilica of S. Paul Cemeteries on 
the Via Ardeatina Grandeur of cemetery of S. Domitilla 
The small basilica of S. Petronilla .... 236 

(3) Groups of cemeteries on the Via Appia S. Sebastian (ad 
Catacumbas} Group of S. Callistus The Papal crypt 
S. Soteris Catacomb of Praetextatus on left hand of the 
Via Appia Tomb of S. Januarius in this catacomb . 242 


(4) Cemeteries on the Via Latina and Via Tiburtina S. Hip- 
polytus S. Laurence S. Agnes cemetery on the Via 
Nomentana ....... 248 


(5) Cemeteries on the Via Salaria Nova S. Felicitas ; the great 
cemetery of S. Priscilla, and the ancient Roman churches 
connected with it Legends Remains of basilica of S. 
Sylvester over the cemetery of S. Priscilla Memories of 
S. Peter in this cemetery Its waters Recent discoveries 
Popes buried in the basilica of S. Sylvester . .258 


(6) Unimportant cemeteries on the Via Salaria Vetus S. Pam- 

phylus S. Hermes S. Valentinus, etc. . . - 274 




Suggested derivation of Petronilla De Rossi and other scholars 
still hold to the ancient Pe trine tradition Reasons for 
maintaining it Early mediaeval testimony here Traces of 
the early cult of this Saint . . . 277 


Probable situation of the tomb in present basilica of S. Peter 
Account of what was found in the course of the excavations 
in the seventeenth century, by Ubaldi, Canon of S. Peter s, 
who was an eye-witness of the discoveries made in A.D. 1626, 
when the works required for the great bronze Baldachino of 
Bernini were being carried out t . . 279 




The old story of the famous Saint no longer a mere legend 
Reconstruction of S. Cecilia s life The crypt is described 
Her basilica in the Trastevere quarter once S. Cecilia s 
house ........ 289 



Discovery of remains of S. Cecilia by Paschal i., A.D. 821 
Appearance of the body, which he translated from the crypt 
in the catacomb of Callistus to her basilica Her tomb in 
the basilica opened in A.D. 1599 by Clement vm. Appear 
ance of the body Maderno copied it in marble How De 
Rossi discovered and identified in the original catacomb 
the crypt of S. Cecilia ..... 292 



Discovery and identification of the burial-places of S. Felicitas, of 
S. Januarius, and of her other sons Reconstruction of her 
story Tomb of S. Januarius found in cemetery of Praetex- 
tatus on the Via Appia Original tomb of S. Felicitas found 
in the cemetery bearing her name (Via Salaria Nova) 
Identification of the burial-places of her other sons . 298 







Uncounted numbers of graves in this silent city of the dead ; 
computed at three, four, or five millions belonging to all 
ranks Some of these were elaborately adorned Greek often 
the language of very early epitaphs Great simplicity as 
a rule in inscriptions No panegyric of dead just a name 
a prayer an emblem of faith and hope Communion of 
saints everywhere asserted ..... 307 



A few of these epitaphs quoted never a word of sorrow for the 
departed found in them Question of the catacomb teaching 
on efficacy of prayers of the dead for the living S. Cyprian 
quoted here Desire of being interred close to a famous 
martyr Marked difference in the pagan conception of the 
dead Some pagan epitaphs quoted . . . .310 



The epitaphs on the catacomb graves tell us with no uncertain 
voice how intensely real among the Christian folk was the 
conviction of the future life They talk, as it were, with the 
dead as with living ones Dogmatic allusions in these short 
epitaphs necessarily are very brief, but yet are quite definite 
The supreme divinity of Jesus Christ constantly asserted 
The catacombs are full of Christ Of the emblems carved on 
the graves Jesus Christ as " the Good Shepherd " most 
frequent The "Crucifixion" became a favourite subject of 
representation only in later years . . . -314 


On the wish to be interred close to a saint or martyr Quotation 

from S. Augustine here . . . 321 





The story of the Jew his past his condition now, is the 
weightiest argument that can be adduced in support of the 
truth of Christianity What happened to the " sad rem 
nant " of the people after the exterminating wars of Titus 
and Hadrian, A.D. 70 and 134-5, is little known; yet the 
wonderful story of the Jew, especially in the second and third 
centuries, is a piece of supreme importance How Rabbinic 
study and the putting out of the Talmud have influenced 
the general estimate of the Old Testament among Christian 
peoples ........ 325 



The First War, A.D. 66-70 Revolt of the Jews The dangerous 
revolt was eventually crushed by Vespasian, and when he 
succeeded to the Empire his son Titus completed the 
conquest Fate of the city of Jerusalem, A.D. 70 Why 
was the Temple burned ? The recital of Sulpicius Severus 
gives the probable answer The account in question was 
apparently quoted from a lost book of Tacitus The Roman 
triumph of Titus The memories of the conquered Jews on 
the Arch of Titus in the Forum The great change in 
Judaism after A.D. 70, when the Temple and city were 
destroyed The change was completed after the war of 
Hadrian in A.D. 134-5 (the third war) Brief account of 
the second and third wars The bitter persecution after the 
third war soon ceased, and the sad Jewish remnant was left 
virtually to itself ...... 329 



The conservation of the remnant of the Jews was owing to the 
development of Rabbinism Rabbinism, however, existed 
before A.D. 70 Traditional story of the rise of Rabbinism 
contained in the " Mishnah " treatise Pirke Aboth 
Effect of the great catastrophe of A.D. 70 Mosaism was 
destroyed, and was replaced by Rabbinism . . .338 





Extraordinary group of eminent Rabbis who arose after the 
catastrophe of A.D. 70 Their new conception of the future 
of Israel The Torah (Law of Moses) and other writings of 
the Old Testament from the days of Ezra had been esteemed 
ever more and more highly The " Halachah " or (Rules 
round the Torah) gradually multiplied The elaboration 
of these " Halachah " and " Haggadah " (traditions) formed 
the " Mishnah " this work roughly occupied the new Jewish 
schools during the whole of the second century Explanation 
of term " Mishnah " The next two or three centuries were 
occupied by the Rabbis in their schools of Palestine and 
Babylonia in a further commentary on the " Mishnah " 
This second work of the Rabbis was termed the " Gemara " . 342 



Portions of the " Talmud " had existed before A.D. 70 probably 
some few of the " Halachah " and " Haggadah " even dating 
from the days of Moses some from the times of the Judges, 
and others belonging to the schools of the Prophets In the 
times of Ezra arose the strange and unique " Guild of Scribes," 
devoted to the study and interpretation of the sacred writings 
and the traditions which had gathered round them in past ages 
R. Hillel a li ttle before the Christian era began the task of 
arranging the results of the labours of the scribes R. Akiba 
after A.D. 70 continued the work of arrangement, but was 
interrupted His fame and story R. Meir further worked 
at the same task, which was finally completed by R. Judah 
the Holy, who generally arranged the Mishnah in the form 
in which it has come down to us This " Mishnah " served 
as the text for the great academies of Palestine and Baby 
lonia to work on in the third and two following centuries 
Their writings are known as the " Gemara " The Mishnah 
and Gemara together form the Talmud A picture of the 
great Rabbinic academies of Palestine and Babylonia 
Their methods of study . 347 



Description of the Massorah The work of the Massorites in the 
preservation of the text of the sacred books Present con 
dition of the Massorah . . . . . .361 





Inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures, according to the 

Talmud account ...... 364 

The story of the Talmud through the ages .... 365 

The Talmud and the New Testament .... 366 

Influence of the Talmud on Judaism .... 368 

Influence of the Talmud on Christianity .... 370 



" Haggadah " in the Talmud and in other ancient Rabbinical 
writings Signification of the " Haggadah " Its great im 
portance Its enduring popularity . . . . 371 

Examples of " Haggadah " quoted from the Palestinian Targum 

on Deuteronomy ...... 373 



The general purport of the "Halachah" Some illustrations 
Further details connected with the "Haggadah" It is not 
confined to the later Books of the Old Testament The 
" Haggadah " also belongs to the Pentateuch Examples of 
this quoted Instances of the influence of "Haggadah" in 
the New Testament Books ..... 376 


INDEX ....... .381 


CHILDREN IN THE FURNACE . . . Frontispiece 

From Palmer s Early Christian Symbolism. By permission of KEGAN 





From Roma Sotterranea Cristiana. By permission of the Author, ORAZIO 

TOMB OF THE SAINT ...... 245 

Photo, S. J. BECKETT 


Photo, S. J. BECKETT 



Photo, S. J. BECKETT 


Photo, S. J. BECKETT 






Photo, S. J. BECKETT 


Photo, S. J. BECKETT 


From the Jewish Encvclopcedia. By permission of FUNK & 


WALLS OF THE TEMPLE . . . . . 332 



A.D. 70 ..... . 340 

From a drawing in the Jewish Encyclopaedia. By permission. 

"ASSURED the trial, fiery, fierce, but fleet, 
Would, from his little heap of ashes, lend 
Wings to that conflagration of the world 
Which Christ awaits ere He makes all things new : 
So should the frail become the perfect, rapt 
From glory of pain to glory of joy." 

BROWNING, The Ring and the Book , x. 1797 







AT the beginning of the first century of the Christian era 
the Jewish colony in Rome had attained large dimen 
sions. As early as B.C. 162 we hear of agreements 
we can scarcely call them treaties concluded between the 
Jews under the Maccabean dynasty and the Republic. After 
the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey, B.C. 63, a number more 
of Jewish exiles swelled the number of the chosen people who 
had settled in the capital. Cicero when pleading for Flaccus, 
who was their enemy, publicly alludes to their numbers and 
influence. Their ranks were still further recruited in B.C. 51, 
when a lieutenant of Crassus brought some thousands of 
Jewish prisoners to Rome. During the civil wars, Julius 
Caesar showed marked favour to the chosen people. After his 
murder they were prominent among those who mourned 

Augustus continued the policy of Julius Caesar, and showed 
them much favour ; their influence in Roman society during 
the earlier years of the Empire seems to have been consider 
able. They are mentioned by the great poets who flourished 
in the Augustan age. The Jewish Sabbath is especially alluded 
to by Roman writers as positively becoming a fashionable 
observance in the capital. 

A few distinguished families, who really possessed little of 
the Hebrew character and nationality beyond the name, 
such as the Herods, adopted the manners and ways of life 


of the Roman patrician families ; but as a rule the Jews in 
foreign lands preferred the obscurity to which the reputation 
of poverty condemned them. Some of them were doubtless 
possessors of wealth, but they carefully concealed it ; the 
majority, however, were poor, and they even gloried in their 
poverty ; they haunted the lowest and poorest quarters of 
the great city. Restlessly industrious, they made their 
livelihood, many of them, out of the most worthless objects 
of merchandise ; but they obtained in the famous capital a 
curious celebrity. There was something peculiar in this 
strange people at once attractive and repellent. The French 
writer Allard, in the exhaustive and striking volumes in which 
he tells the story of the persecutions in his own novel and 
brilliant way, epigrammatically writes of the Jew in the golden 
age of Augustus as " one who was known to pray and to pore 
over his holy national literature in Rome which never prayed 
and which possessed no religious books " (" II prie et il etudie 
ses livres saintes, dans Rome qui n a pas de theologie et qui 
ne prie pas "). &.$ 

They lived their solitary life alone in the midst of the 
crowded city by themselves in life, by themselves, too, in 
death ; for they possessed their own cemeteries in the sub 
urbs, catacombs we now term them, strange God s acres 
where they buried, for they never burned, their dead, carefully 
avoiding the practice of cremation, a practice then generally 
in vogue in pagan Rome. Upon these Jewish cemeteries the 
Christians, as they increased in numbers, largely modelled 
those vast cities of the dead of which we shall speak pre 

They watched over and tenderly succoured their own poor 
and needy, the widow and the orphan ; on the whole living 
pure self-denying lives, chiefly disfigured by the restless spirit, 
which ever dwelt in the Jewish race, of greed and avarice. 
They were happy, how r ever, in their own way, living on the 
sacred memories of a glorious past, believing with an intense 
belief that they were still, as in the glorious days of David 
and Solomon, the people beloved of God and that ever 
beneath them, in spite of their many confessed backslidings, 
were the Everlasting Arms ; trusting, with a faith which 


never paled or faltered, that the day would surely come when 
out of their own people a mighty Deliverer would arise, who 
would restore them to their loved sacred city and country ; 
would invest His own, His chosen nation, with a glory 
and power grander, greater than the world had ever 

There is no doubt but that the Jew of Rome in Rome s 
golden days, in spite of his seeming poverty and degradation, 
possessed a peculiar moral power in the great empire, unknown 
among pagan nations. 1 

In the reign of Nero, when the disciples of Jesus in Rome 
first emerged from the clouds and mists which envelop the 
earliest days of Roman Christianity, the number of Jews in 
the capital is variously computed as amounting to from 
30,000 to 50,000 persons. 

The Jewish colony in Rome was a thoroughly representa 
tive body of Jews. They were gathered from many centres 
of population, Palestine and Jerusalem itself contributing 
a considerable contingent. They evidently were distinguished 
for the various qualities, good and bad, which generally char 
acterized this strange, wonderful people. They were restless, 
at times turbulent, proud and disdainful, avaricious and 
grasping ; but at the same time they were tender and com 
passionate in a very high degree to the sad-eyed unfortunate 
ones among their own people, most reverent, as we have 
remarked, in the matter of disposing of their dead, on the 
whole giving an example of a morality far higher than that 
which, as a rule, prevailed among the citizens of the mighty 
capital in the midst of whom they dwelt. 

The nobler qualities which emphatically distinguished 
the race were no doubt fostered by the intense religious spirit 

1 A singular and interesting passage of Allard here deserves to be quoted 
verbatim : " Dans Rome ou le celibat est devenu une plaie sociale, ou la 
population diminue, ou la st6rilit6 regne au foyer domestique, ou 1 avorte- 
ment 1 infanticide sont frequents et a peine reprimes, les Juifs seuls ont 
beaucoup d enfants Tacite a d6fini d un mot ce trait de leur race ; generandi 
amor, dit-il en enumerant les principaux characters du peuple Juif. Tous 
les temoignages anciens parlent de leur grand nombre ; augmenter etait une 
de leurs preoccupations, augendcs multitudini consulitur dit encore Tacite." 
See Tacitus, Hist. v. 5 ; Allard, i. p. 12. 


which lived and breathed in every Jewish household. The 
fear of the eternal God, who they believed with an intense 
and changeless faith loved them, was ever before the eyes 
alike of the humblest, poorest little trader, as of the wealthiest 
merchant in their company. 



INTO this mass of Jewish strangers dwelling in the great 
city came the news of the wonderful work of Jesus Christ. 
As among the Jews at Jerusalem, so too in Rome, the 
story of the Cross attracted many repelled many. The 
glorious news of salvation, of redemption, sank quietly into 
many a sick and weary heart ; these hearts were kindled into a 
passionate love for Him who had redeemed them into a love 
such as had never before been kindled in any human heart. 
While, on the other hand, with many, the thought that the 
treasured privileges of the chosen people were henceforward 
to be shared on equal terms by the despised Gentile world, 
excited a bitter and uncompromising opposition an opposi 
tion which oftentimes shaded into an intense hate. 

The question as to who first preached the gospel of Jesus 
Christ to this great Jewish colony will probably never be 
answered. There is a high probability that the " story of 
the Cross " was told very soon after the Resurrection by some 
of those pilgrims to the Holy City who had been eye-witnesses 
of the miracle of the first Pentecost. 

There is, however, a question connected with the begin 
nings of Christianity in Rome which is of the deepest interest 
to the student of ecclesiastical history, a question upon which 
much that has happened since largely hangs. 

Was S. Peter in any way connected with the laying of the 
foundation of the great Christian community in Rome ; can 
he really be considered as one of the founders of that most 
important Church ? An immemorial tradition persists in so 
connecting him ; upon what grounds is this most ancient 
tradition based ? 

Scholars of all religious schools of thought now generally 


allow that S. Peter visited Rome and spent some time in the 
capital city ; wrote his great First Epistle from it, in which 
Epistle he called " Rome " by the not unusual mystic name 
of " Babylon," and eventually suffered martyrdom there on 
a spot hard by the mighty basilica called by his name. 

The only point at issue is, did he as the favourite tradition 
asserts pay his first visit to Rome quite early in the Christian 
story, circa A.D. 42, remaining there for some seven or eight 
years preaching and teaching, laying the foundations of the 
great Church which rapidly sprang up in the capital ? 

Then when the decree of the Emperor Claudius banished 
the Jews, A.D. 49-50, the tradition asserts that the apostle 
returned to the East, was present at the Apostolic Council 
held at Jerusalem A.D. 50, only returning to Rome circa A.D. 
63. Somewhere about A.D. 64 the First Epistle of Peter was 
probably written from Rome. 1 His martyrdom there is 
best dated about A.D. 67. 

A careful examination of the most ancient " Notices " 
bearing especially on the question of the laying of the early 
stories of the Roman Church, determines the writer of this 
little study to adopt the above rough statement of S. Peter s 
work at Rome. Some of the principal portions of these 
" notices " will now be quoted, that it may be seen upon what 
basis the conclusion in question is adopted. The quotations 
will be followed by a sketch of the traditional and other evi 
dence specially drawn from the testimony of the very early 
Roman catacomb of S. Priscilla. This sketch, which is here 
termed the " traditional evidence," it will be seen, power 
fully supports the deduction derived from the notices quoted 
from very early Christian literature. 

1 Professor Ramsay in his book, The Church in the Roman Empire, 
prefers a later date for the composition of the First Epistle of St. Peter 
than that usually given, A.D. 64-5. He believes it was impregnated with 
Roman thought and was certainly written from Rome, but not before 
A.D. 80. This would give a long period of Roman work to the apostle ; still 
able as are Professor Ramsay s arguments the later date and all that it 
involves are absolutely at variance with the universal tradition. 



Clemens Romanus, A.D. 95-6. In the fifth chapter of the 
well-known and undoubtedly authentic Letter of Clement 
of Rome to the Corinthians, the writer calls the attention of 
the Corinthians to the examples of the Christian " athletes " 
who " lived very near to our own time." He speaks of the 
apostles who were persecuted, and who were faithful to 
death. " There was Peter, who after undergoing many 
sufferings, and having borne his testimony, went to his 
appointed place of glory. There was Paul, who after endur 
ing chains, imprisonments, stonings, again and again, and 
sufferings of all kinds . . . likewise endured martyrdom, and 
so departed from this world." 

The reason why Clement of Rome mentions these two 
special apostles (other apostles had already suffered martyrdom) 
is obvious. Clement was referring to examples of which they 
themselves had been eye-witnesses. Paul, it is universally 
acknowledged, was martyred in Rome ; is not the inference 
from the words of Clement, that Peter suffered martyrdom in 
this same city also, overwhelming ? 

Ignatius, circa A.D. 108-9, some twelve or thirteen years 
after Clement had written his Epistle to the Corinthians, on 
his journey to his martyrdom at Rome, thus writes to the 
Roman Church : " I do not command you like Peter and Paul : 
they were apostles ; I am a condemned criminal." Why now 
did Ignatius single out Peter and Paul ? So Bishop Light foot, 
commenting on this passage, forcibly says : " Ignatius was 
writing from Asia Minor. He was a guest of a disciple of John 
at the time. He was sojourning in a country where John 
was the one prominent name. The only conceivable reason 
why he specially named Peter and Paul was that these two 
apostles had both visited Rome and were remembered by the 
Roman Church." 

Papias of Hierapolis, born circa A.D. 60-70. His writings 
probably date somewhat late in the first quarter of the second 
century. On the authority of Presbyter John, a personal dis 
ciple of the Lord, Papias tells us about Mark : he was a friend 
and interpreter of S. Peter, and wrote down what he heard 


his master teach, and there (in Rome) composed his " record." 
This notice seems to have been connected by Papias with 
i Pet. v. 13, where Mark is alluded to in connexion with the 
fellow-elect in Babylon (Rome). 

" It seems," concludes Bishop Light foot, referring to 
Irenaeus (5. Clement of Rome, ii. 494), " a tolerably safe 
inference, therefore, that Papias represented S. Peter as being 
in Rome, that he stated Mark to have been with him there, 
and that he assigned to the latter a Gospel record (the 
second Gospel) which was committed to writing for the in 
struction of the Romans." 

Dionysius of Corinth, A.D. 170, quoted by Eusebius 
(H. E. ii. xxv.), wrote to Soter, bishop of Rome, as follows: 
" Herein by such instructions (to us) ye have united the 
trees of the Romans and Corinthians (trees) planted by Peter 
and Paul. For they both alike came also to our Corinth, and 
taught us ; and both alike came together to Italy, and having 
taught there, suffered martyrdom at the same time." 

Irenceus, circa A.D. 177-90, writes : " Matthew published 
also a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, 
while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Church 
in Rome. Again after their departure, Mark, the disciple and 
interpreter of Peter, himself also handed down to us in writing 
the lessons preached by Peter." H. E. in. i. i. 

Clement of Alexandria, circa A.D. 193-217 (Hypdtyposes, 
quoted by Eusebius, H. E. vi. 14) tells us how, " when Peter 
had preached the word publicly in Rome, and declared the 
gospel by the Spirit, the bystanders, being many in number, 
exhorted Mark as having accompanied him for a long time, 
and remembering what he had said, to write out his statements, 
and having thus composed his Gospel, to communicate it to 
them ; and that when Peter learnt this, he used no pressure 
either to prevent him or to urge him forwards." 

Tertullian, circa A.D. 200, adds his testimony thus : " We 
read in the lives of the Cresars, Nero was the first to stain the 
rising faith with blood. Thus Peter is girt by another (quoting 
the Lord s words) when he is boind to the Cross. Thus Paul 
obtains his birthright of Roman citizenship when he is born 
again there by the nobility of Martyrdom." Scorpiace, 15. 


TerMlian again writes : " Nor does it matter whether they 
are among those whom John baptized in the Jordan, or those 
whom Peter baptized in the Tiber." De Baptismo, 4. 

Tertullian once more tells us : " The Church of the Romans 
reports that Clement was ordained by Peter." -De Prce- 
scriptione Hcer. 36. 

Tertullian again bears similar testimony : " If thou art 
near to Italy, thou hast Rome. . . . How happy is that 
Church on whom the apostles shed all their teaching with 
their blood, where Peter is conformed to the passion of the 
Lord, where Paul is crowned with the death of John (the 
Baptist), where the Apostle John after having been plunged 
in boiling oil, without suffering any harm, is banished to an 
island ! " De Prcescriptione, 36. 

Caius (or Gaius) the Roman presbyter, circa A.D. 200-20, 
who lived in the days of Pope Zephyrinus, and was a con 
temporary of Hippolytus, if not (as Lightfoot suspects) 
identical with him (Hippolytus of Portus), gives us the follow 
ing detail : " I can show you the trophies (the Memoriae or 
Chapel-Tombs) of the apostles. For if you will go to the 
Vatican or to the Ostian Way, thou wilt find (there) the 
trophies (the Memoriae) of those who founded the Church." 

Caius is here claiming for his own Church of Rome the 
authority of the Apostles SS. Peter and Paul, whose martyred 
bodies rest in Rome. Quoted by Eusebius, H. E. n. xxv. 

Thus at that early date when Caius wrote, the localities 
of the graves of the two apostles were reputed to have been 
the spots where now stand the great basilicas of SS. Peter and 

Eusebius, H. E. n. xiv., gives a definite date for the first 
coming of Peter to Rome, and his preaching there. The 
historian was describing the influence of Simon Magus at 
Rome. This, he adds, did not long continue, " for immediately 
under the reign of Claudius, by the benign and gracious provi 
dence of God, Peter, that powerful and great apostle who by 
his courage took the lead of all the rest, was conducted to 
Rome against this pest of mankind. He (S. Peter) bore the 
precious merchandise of the revealed light from the East 
to those in the West, announcing this light itself, and salutary 


doctrine of the soul, the proclamation of the kingdom of 

Eusebius also writes that " Linus, whom he (Paul) has 
mentioned in his Second Epistle to Timothy as his companion 
at Rome, has been before shown to have been the first after 
Peter that obtained the Episcopate at Rome."- Eusebius, 
H. E. in. iv. 

The traditional memories of Peter s residence in Rome 
and his prolonged teaching there are very numerous. De 
Rossi while quoting certain of these as legendary, adds that an 
historical basis underlies these notices. Some of the more 
interesting of these are connected with the house and family 
of Pudens on the Aventine, and with the cemetery of Saint 
Priscilla on the Via Salaria. 

To the pilgrims of the fifth and following centuries were 
pointed out the chair in which Peter used to sit and teach 
(Sedes ubi prius sedit S. Petrus), and also the cemeterium 
fontis S. Petri cemeterium ubi Petrus baptizaverat. Marucchi, 
the pupil and successor of De Rossi, believes that this cemetery 
where it was said S. Peter used to baptize, is identical with 
parts of the vast and ancient catacomb of Priscilla. These 
and further traditional notices are dwelt on with greater detail 
presently when the general evidence is summed up. 1 

^ee the detailed account of this catacomb, Book IV. 261 and following 



AND now to sum up the evidence we have been quoting : 
The Literary Notices have been gathered from all 
parts of the Roman world where Christianity had made 
a lodgment. 

From Rome (Clement of Rome) in the first and second 
centuries and early in the third century. 

From Antioch (Ignatius, Papias) (including Syria and 
Asia Minor) very early in the second century. 

From Corinth (Greece) (Dionysius) in the second half of 
the second century. 

From Lyons (Gaul) (Irenaeus) in the second half of the 
second century. 

From Alexandria (Egypt) (Clement of Alexandria) in 
the second half of the second century. 

From Carthage (North Africa) (Tertullian) in the close of 
the second century. 

These and other literary notices, more or less definitely, 
all ascribe the laying of the foundation stories of the Church 
of Rome to the preaching and teaching of the Apostles Peter 
and Paul. All without exception in their notices of this 
foundation work place the name of Peter first. It is hardly 
conceivable that these very early writers would have done 
this had Peter only made his appearance in Rome for the 
first time in A.D. 63 or 64, after Paul s residence in the capital 
for some two years, when he was awaiting the trial which 
resulted in his acquittal. 

Then again, the repeated mention of the two great apostles 
as the Founders of the Roman Church would have been singu 
larly inaccurate if neither of them had visited the capital 
before A.D. 60-1, the date of Paul s arrival, and A.D. 63-4, the 


date of S. Peter s coming, supposing we assume the later date 
for S. Peter s coming and preaching. 

When we examine the literary notices in question we find 
in several of them a more circumstantial account of Peter s 
work than Paul s ; for instance : 

Papias and Irenaus give us special details of S. Mark s 
position as the interpreter of S. Peter, and tell us particularly 
how the friend and disciple of S. Peter took down his master s 
words, which he subsequently moulded into what is known as 
the second Gospel. 

Tertullian relates that S. Peter baptized in the Tiber, and 
mentions, too, how this apostle ordained Clement. 

Eusebius, the great Church historian to whom we owe so 
much of our knowledge of early Church history, writing in the 
early years of Constantine s reign, in the first quarter of the 
fourth century, goes still more into detail, and gives us ap 
proximately the date of S. Peter s first coming, which he 
states to have been in the reign of Claudius, who was Emperor 
from A.D. 41 to A.D. 54 (Eusebius, H. E. n. xiv.). The same 
historian also repeats the account above referred to of Mark s 
work as Peter s companion and scribe in Rome (H. E. n. xv.), 
adding that the " Church in Babylon " referred to by S. Peter 
(i Ep. v. 13) signified the Church of Rome. 

Jerome, writing in the latter years of the same century 
(the fourth) , is very definite on the question of the early arrival 
of S. Peter at Rome " Romam mitt it ur," says the great 
scholar, " ubi evangelium praedicans XXV annis ejusdem 
urbis episcopus perseverat . Now, reckoning back the twenty- 
five years of S. Peter s supervision of the Roman Church 
would bring S. Peter s first presence in Rome to A.D. 42-3 ; 
for Jerome tells us how " Post Petrum primus Romanam 
ecclesiam tenuit Linus," and the early catalogues of the 
Roman Bishops the Eusebian (Armenian version), the cata 
logue of Jerome, and the catalogue called the Liberian give the 
date of Linus accession respectively as A.D. 66, A.D. 68, A.D. 67. 

The early lists or catalogues of the Bishops of Rome, 
just casually referred to, are another important and weighty 
witness to the ancient and generally received tradition of the 
early visit and prolonged presence of S. Peter at Rome. 


The first of these in the middle of the second century was 
drawn up, as far as Eleutherius, A.D. 177-90 by Hegesippus, a 
Hebrew Christian. Eusebius is our authority for this. This 
list, however, has not come down to us. It is, however, prob 
able that it was the basis, as far as it went, of the list draw r n 
up by Irenaeus circa A.D. 180-90. This is the earliest 
catalogue of the Roman Bishops which we possess. Irenaeus, 
after stating that the Roman Church was founded by the 
Apostles Peter and Paul, adds that they entrusted the office 
of the Episcopate to Linus. 

In the Armenian version of the Chronicles of Eusebius, 
the only version in which we possess this Eusebian Chronicle, 
Peter appears at the head of the list of Roman Bishops, and 
twenty years is given as the duration of his government of the 
Church. Linus is stated to have been his successor. In the 
list of S. Jerome a similar order is preserved with the slight 
difference of twenty-five years instead of twenty as the dura 
tion of S. Peter s rule. The deduction which naturally follows 
these entries in the two lists has been already suggested. The 
Liberian Catalogue, compiled circa A.D. 354, places S. Peter 
at the head of the Roman Bishops giving twenty-five years 
as the duration of his government. Linus follows here. 

The Liberian Catalogue was the basis of the great historical 
work now generally known as the " Liber Pontificalis," which 
in its notices of the early Popes embodies the whole of the 
Liberian Catalogue only giving fresh details. The " Liber 
Pontificalis " in its first portion in its present form is traced 
back to the earlier years of the sixth century. 

The traditional notices of the early presence of S. Peter in 
Rome are many and various. Taken by themselves they 
are, no doubt, not convincing some of them ranking as purely 
legendary though we recognize even in these " purely 
legendary " notices an historical foundation ; but taken 
together they constitute an argument of no little weight. 

Among the " purely legendary " we have touched upon the 
memories which hang round the house of Pudens, and the 
church which in very early times arose on its site. 1 Of far 

1 On these memories which belong to the house of Pudens and his family 
see pp. 262-270. 


greater historical value are the memories which belong to 
the Catacomb of Priscilla, memories which recent discoveries 
in that most ancient cemetery go far to lift many of the old 
traditions into the realm of serious history. 

The historical fact of the burial (depositid) of some ten 
or eleven of the first Bishops round the sacred tomb of the 
Apostle S. Peter (juxla corpus beati Petri in Vaticano), gives 
additional colour to the tradition of the immemorial reverence 
which from the earliest times of the Church of Rome encircles 
the memory of S. Peter. 

From the third century onward we find the Roman Bishops 
claiming as their proudest title to honour their position as 
successors of S. Peter. In all the controversies which subse 
quently arose between Rome and the East this position was 
never questioned. Duchesne, in his last great work, 1 ever 
careful and scholarly, does not hesitate to term the " Church 
of Rome " (he is dwelling on its historical aspect) the 
" Church of S. Peter." 

This study on the work of S. Peter in the matter of laying 
the early stories of the great Church which after the fall of 
Jerusalem in A.D. 70 indisputably became the metropolis of 
Christianity, has been necessarily somewhat long the ques 
tion is one of the highest importance to the historian of 
ecclesiastical history. Was this lofty claim of the long line of 
Bishops of Rome to be the successors of S. Peter, ever one of 
their chief titles to honour, based on historic evidence, or was 
it simply an invention of a later age ? 

All serious historians now are agreed that S. Peter taught 
in Rome, wrote his Epistle from Rome, and subsequently 
suffered martyrdom there. 

But historians, as we have stated, are not agreed upon the 
date of his first appearance in the queen city. Now the sum 
of the evidence massed together in the foregoing brief study, 
leads to the indisputable conclusion that the date of his coming 
to Rome must be placed very early in the story of Christianity, 
somewhere about A.D. 41-3. 

Everything points to this conclusion. How could Peter 
be, with any accuracy, styled the " Founder of the Church of 

1 Histoire ancienne de l glise, vol. i. p. 61 (4th edition, 1908). 


Rome " if he never appeared in Rome before A.D. 64 ? Long 
before this date the Church of the metropolis had been 
" founded," had had time to become a large and flourishing 
Christian community. This estimate of the signal importance 
of the Church of Rome is based on various testimonies, among 
which may be ranked the long list of salutations in S. Paul s 
Epistle to the Romans, written circa A.D. 58. 

All the various notices of the leading Christian writers 
of the first and second centuries in all lands carefully style 
him as such. Paul, it is true, in most, not in all these early 
writings, is associated with him as a joint founder : this in a 
real sense can also be understood ; for although Paul came at a 
later date to Rome and dwelt there some two years, the presence 
of one of the greatest of the early Christian teachers would 
surely add enormously to the stability of the foundations 
laid years before. The teaching of the great Apostle of the 
Gentiles, continued for two years, was, of course, a very im 
portant factor in the " foundation work," and was evidently 
always reckoned as such. 

But even then, as we have seen, while the two apostles 
are frequently joined together as founders in the writings of 
the early Christian teachers, in several notable instances 
Peter s work is especially dwelt upon by them. 

Then again in the traditional " Memories " preserved to 
us, some of them of the highest historical value, it is Peter, 
not Paul, who is ever the principal figure. Paul rarely, if 
ever, appears in them. Great though undoubtedly Paul was 
as a teacher of the Christian mysteries and as an expounder 
of Christian doctrine, it is emphatically Peter, not Paul, who 
lives in the " memories " ui tne Roman Christian community. 

The place which the two basilicas of S. Peter and S. Paul 
on the Vatican Hill and on the Ostian Way have ever occupied 
in the minds and hearts not only of the Roman people, but of 
all the innumerable pilgrims in all ages to the sacred shrines of 
Rome, seems accurately to measure the respective places which 
the two apostles hold in the estimate of the Roman Church. 

The comparative neglect of S. Paul s basilica in Rome 
vhen measured with the undying reverence shown to, and 
with the enormous pains and cost bestowed on the sister 



basilica of S. Peter, is due not to any want of reverence or 
respect for the noble Apostle of the Gentiles, but solely because 
Rome and the pilgrims to Rome were deeply conscious of 
the special debt of Rome to S. Peter, who was evidently the 
real founder of the mighty Church of the capital. 

The writer of this work is fully conscious that the con 
clusion to which he has come after massing together all the 
available evidence, is not the usual conclusion arrived at by 
one great and influential school of thought in our midst ; 
nor does it accord with the conclusion of that eminently just 
scholar Bishop Light foot, who while positively affirming the 
presence of S. Peter in Rome, whence, as he allows, he wrote 
his First Epistle, and where through pain and agony he passed 
to his longed-for rest in his Master s Paradise, yet cannot 
accept the tradition of his early presence in the metropolis. 

The writer of this study has no doubt whatever that 
the teaching of the vast majority of the Roman Catholic 
writers on this point is strictly accurate, and that S. Peter at 
a comparatively early date, probably somewhere about the 
year of grace 42-3, came to Rome confirmed in the faith 
taught strengthened with his own blessed memories of his 
adored Master the little band of Christians already dwelling in 
the capital of the Empire. Under his pious training the little 
band, in the six, seven, or eight years of his residence in their 
midst, became the strong nucleus of the powerful- Church of 

Then, most probably, he left Rome when the decree of 
the Emperor Claudius, A.D. 49, was promulgated : the decree 
which was the result of the disturbances among the turbu 
lent Jewish colony, disturbances no doubt owing to bitter 
and relentless opposition to the fast spreading of the Chris 
tian faith in their midst. As Suetonius (Claudius, 25) tersely 
but clearly tells us : " Judaeos, impulsore Christ o assidue 
tumult uantes Roma expulit." 

From the year 49, when he left the Queen City, S. Peter 
apparently was absent from the Church in which for some 
seven or eight years he had laboured so well and so successfully, 
continuing his work, however, in other lands. Then in A.D. 
63-4 he returned, resumed his Roman work, wrote the First 


Epistle which bears his name, and eventually suffered 

This conclusion, of such deep importance in early ecclesi 
astical history, has been arrived at as the student of the 
foregoing pages will see from no one statement, from no 
whole class, so to speak, of evidences, but from the cumulative 
evidence afforded by the massing together the statements of 
early writers, the testimony of the catacombs, the witness of 
tradition, and the voice of what may almost be accurately 
termed immemorial history. 1 

1 It will be noticed that an interesting hypothesis dwelt on by Allard 
(Histoire des Persecutions, vol. i.) and by other writers has not been quoted 
among the foregoing testimonies. It is curious and deserving of notice, but 
it is at best only an ingenious supposition. 

These scholars suggest that when S. Peter, after his deliverance through 
the interference of an angel guide, escaped from the prison of Herod Antipas 
and went to another place (Acts xii. 17), that the " other place " so mysteriously 
and strangely alluded to by the writer of the " Acts " signified Rome. 

A Roman tradition handed down to us through the medium of early Christian 
art, curiously seems to connect the angelic deliverance of the Apostle S. Peter 
with Rome. On some twenty of the early Christian sarcophagi preserved in the 
Lateran Museum, the arrest and imprisonment of S. Peter by the soldiers of 
Herod Antipas form the subject of the sculpture. Why, pertinently ask these 
writers, was this special scene in the life of S. Peter selected as the subject 
graved on so many of these ancient coffins of the Roman Christian dead? They 
reply The connexion which traditionally existed between this imprisonment 
and the angelic deliverance with the first coming of the apostle to Rome. 

Bishop Lightfoot somewhat strangely remarks (Clement of Rome, vol. ii. 
p. 491): " S. Paul could not have written as he writes to the Romans (i. n, 
xv. 20-24) if they had received even a short visit from an apostle, more 
especially if that apostle were S. Peter." 

It is difficult to see how he makes this deduction from S. Paul s words 
in the passages in question. In the first passage (Rom. i. n), S. Paul, after 
addressing the Roman Christians, and thanking God that their faith is spoken 
of throughout the whole world, adds that he longs to see these Christians, 
that he may impart to them some spiritual gift to the end that they may be 
established. Then he explains or, as it were, recalls what he has said, that 
he might not seem to think them insufficiently instructed or established in the 
faith, and therefore in the words which follow closely, " that I may be com 
forted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me," turns 
the end of his coming to them to their mutual rejoicing in one another s 
faith, when he and they shall come to know one another. 

In the second passage (Rom. xv. 20-24), S. Paul plainly states that his 
work had been to preach the gospel "not where Christ was named, lest he 
should build upon another man s foundation " that is, not where Christ 
was preached by another before me. 


Then he adds, that he considered the preaching of Christ where he had 
not been named the most needful work ; he therefore declined going to Rome, 
where was a Church already planted ; but now, having no more Churches 
to plant in the regions where he was sojourning, he signifies his resolution of 
visiting the Roman Church. 

Any deduction that could be drawn from these two passages in S. Paul s 
Epistle to the Romans, would seem to be exactly the contrary to that suggested 
by Lightfoot. 



THE Roman Church in the year of grace 61 was evi 
dently already a powerful and influential congregation : 
everything points to this conclusion : its traditions, 
we might even say its history, and, above all, the notices 
contained in S. Paul s Epistle to the Romans written not 
later than A.D. 58. 

Virtually alone among the Churches of the first thirty 
years of Christianity does S. Paul give to this congregation 
unstinting, unqualified praise very different to his words 
addressed to the Church in Corinth in both of his Epistles to 
that notable Christian centre, or to the Galatian congregation 
in his letter to the Church of that province ; or even to the 
Thessalonians, the Church which he loved well, where re 
proach and grave warnings are mingled with and colour his 
loving words. 

But to the Church of Rome, in which in its many early 
years of struggle and combat he bore no part whatever, 
his praise is quite unmingled with rebuke or warning. As 
regards this congregation (Rom. i. 8), Paul thanks God for them 
all that their faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 
In the concluding chapter of the Epistle, some twenty-five 
specially distinguished members of the Roman congregation 
are saluted by name, though it by no means follows that 
S. Paul was personally acquainted with all of those who were 
named by him. 

About three years after writing his famous letter to the 
Romans, just referred to, Paul came as a prisoner to the 


capital city. But although a prisoner awaiting a public 
trial, the imperial government gave him free liberty to receive 
in his own hired house members of the Christian Church, and 
indeed any who chose to come and listen to his teaching ; and 
this liberty of free access to him was continued all through 
the two years of his waiting for the public trial. The words 
of the " Acts of the Apostles," a writing universally received 
as authentic, are singularly definite here : " And Paul dwelt 
two whole years in his own hired house (in Rome), and received 
all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and 
teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with 
all confidence, no man forbidding him " (Acts xxviii. 30-31). 

It was during these two years of the imprisonment that 
the great teacher justified his subsequent title, accorded him 
by so many of the early Christian writers, of joint founder with 
S. Peter of the Roman Church. The foundations of the 
Church of the metropolis we believe certainly to have been 
laid by another leading member of the apostolic band, S. Peter. 1 
But S. Paul s share in strengthening and in building up this 
Church, the most important congregation in the first days of 
Christianity, was without doubt very great. 

At a very early period, certainly after the fall of Jerusalem 
and the destruction of the Temple, Rome became the acknow 
ledged centre and the metropolis of Christendom. The great 
world-capital was the meeting-place of the followers of the 
Name from all lands. Thither, too, naturally flocked the 
teachers of the principal heresies in doctrinal truth which very 
soon sprang up among Christian converts. Under these 
conditions something more, in such a centre as Rome, was 
impei atively needed than the simple direct Gospel teaching, 
however fervid : something additional to the recital of the won 
drous Gospel story as told by S. Peter and repeated possibly 
verbatim by his disciple S. Mark. A deeper and fuller in 
struction was surely required in such a centre as Rome quickly 
became. Men would ask, Who and what was the Divine 
Founder of the religion, what was His relation to the Father, 
what to the angel-world ? What was known of His pre- 

1 See above, pp. 7-12, where the question of the foundation of the Church 
in Rome is fully discussed. 


existence ? These and such-like questions would speedily press 
for a reply in such a cosmopolitan centre as imperial Rome. 
Inspired teaching bearing on such points as these required to 
be welded into the original foundation stories of the leading 
Church which Rome speedily became, and this was supplied 
by the great master S. Paul, to whom the Holy Ghost had 
vouchsafed what may be justly termed a double portion of 
the Spirit. The Christology of Paul, to use a later theological 
term, was, in view of all that was about to come to pass in the 
immediate future, a most necessary part of the equipment of 
the Church of God in Rome. 

The keynote of the famous master s teaching during those 
two years of his Roman imprisonment may be doubtless 
found in the letters written by him at that time. Three of 
these, the " Ephesian," " Colossian," and " Philippian " 
Epistles, were emphatically massive expositions of doctrine 
especially that addressed to the Colossians. From these we 
can gather what was the principal subject-matter of the Pauline 
teaching at Rome. His thoughts were largely taken up with 
the great doctrinal questions bearing on the person of the 
Founder of Christianity. 

We will quote one or two passages from the great doctrinal 
Epistle to the Colossians as examples of the Pauline teaching 
at this juncture of his life when he was engaged in building up 
the Roman Church, and furnishing it with an arsenal of 
weapons which would soon be needed in their life and death 
contest with the dangerous heresies l which so soon made 
their appearance in the city which was at once the metropolis 
of the Church and the Empire. 

"The Father, . . . who hath translated us into the kingdom 
of His dear Son, . . . who is the image of the invisible God, 
the first-born of every creature : for by Him were all things 
created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and 
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or princi 
palities, or powers : all things were created by Him, and for 
Him : and He is before all things, and by Him all things 
consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church : who 

1 Such as the heresies of the Nicolaitans and Cerinthians, and certain of 
the false Docetic teachings. 


is the beginning, the first-born from the dead ; that in all things 
he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father 
that in Him should all fulness dwell ; and, having made peace 
through the blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things 
unto Himself ; by Him (I say) , whether they be things in 
earth, or things in heaven " (Col. i. 12-20). 

And once more : " Beware lest any man spoil you through 
philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, . . . 
and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of 
the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the 
head of all principality and power." 

Preaching on such texts, which contain those tremendous 
truths which just at this time he embodied in his Colossian 
letter, did S. Paul lay the foundation of the " Christ ology " of 
the Church of Rome. With justice, then, was he ranked by 
the early Christian writers as one of the founders of the Roman 
Church, for he was without doubt the principal teacher of the 
famous congregation in the all-important doctrinal truths 
bearing on the person and office of Jesus Christ. 

S. Peter, whose yet earlier work at Rome, we believe, 
stretching over some eight or nine years, we have already 
dwelt on, was evidently absent from the capital when S. Paul 
in A.D. 58 wrote his famous Letter to the Romans ; nor had 
he returned in A.D. 61, when Paul was brought to the metropolis 
as a prisoner ; but that he returned to Rome somewhere about 
A.D. 63-4 is fairly certain. 



FOR a little more than thirty years, dating back to the 
Resurrection morning, with the exception of the oc 
casion of that temporary and partial banishment of the 
Jews and Christians from Rome in the days of the Emperor 
Claudius, had the Christian propaganda gone on apparently 
unnoticed, certainly unheeded by the imperial government. 

The banishment decree of Claudius, the outcome of a local 
disturbance in the Jewish quarter of the capital, was after 
a brief interval apparently rescinded, or at least ignored by 
the ruling powers ; but in the middle of the year 64, only a 
few months after S. Paul s long-delayed trial and acquittal 
and subsequent departure from Rome, a startling event 
happened which brought the Christians into a sad notoriety, 
and put an end to the attitude of contemptuous indifference 
with which they had been generally regarded by the magistrates 
both in the provinces and in the capital. 

A terrible and unlooked for calamity reduced Rome to a 
state of mourning and desolation. The igth July, A.D. 64, 
the date of the commencement of the desolating fire, was 
long remembered. It broke out in the shops which clustered 
round the great Circus ; a strong summer wind fanned the 
flames, which soon became uncontrollable. The narrow 
streets of the old quarter and the somewhat crumbling build 
ings fed the fire, which raged for some nine days, destroying 
many of the ancient historic buildings. Thousands of the 
poorer inhabitants were rendered homeless and penniless. 
At that period Rome was divided into fourteen regions or 


quarters ; of these three were entirely consumed ; seven more 
were rendered uninhabitable by the fierce fire ; only four 
were left really unharmed by the desolating calamity. 

The passions of the mob, ever quickly aroused, were directed 
in the first instance against the Emperor Nero, who was accused 
probably quite wrongfully of being the incendiary : there 
is indeed a long, a mournful chronicle of evil deeds registered 
against the memory of this evil Emperor ; but that he was 
the guilty author of this special outrage is in the highest degree 
unlikely. His wild life, his cruelties, his ungovernable passions, 
his insanity, for no reader of history can doubt that in his 
case the sickness which so often affects an uncontrolled 
despot had with Nero resulted in insanity, indeed, all his 
works and days, gave colour to the monstrous and absurd 
charges which a fickle and angry mob brought against the once 
strangely popular tyrant. 

All kinds of wild stories connected with the fire were circu 
lated ; he had no doubt many remorseless enemies. Men 
said, Nero sitting high on one of the towers of Rome, watched 
with fiendish joy and exultation the progress of the devouring 
flames, and as Rome burned before his eyes, played upon his 
lyre and sung a hymn of his own composition, for he imagined 
himself a poet, in which he compared the burning of his Rome 
with the ruin of Troy. 

Another legend was current, averring that the slaves of 
the Emperor s household had been seen fanning the flames 
in their desolating course ; another rumour was spread abroad 
which whispered that the mad and wicked Emperor desired to 
see Old Rome, with its narrow and crowded streets, destroyed, 
that he might be able to rebuild it on a new and stately scale, 
and thus, regardless of the immemorial traditions of the ancient 
city, to render his name immortal through this notable and 
magnificent work. 

At all events these improbable stories more or less gained 
credence in many quarters, and the Emperor found himself 
execrated by thousands of thoughtless men and women who 
had suffered the loss of their all in the fire, and who were glad 
to vent their fury on one whom they once admired and even 
loved, though their admiration and love had been often 


mingled with that fierce envy with which the people too 
frequently view the great and rich and powerful. 

Prompted by his evil advisers, among whom the infamous 
Tigellinus was the most conspicuous, the Emperor in the first 
instance accused the Jews of being the incendiaries : curiously 
enough the quarter of the city where they mostly congregated 
had been spared in the late conflagration. It was no difficult 
task to persuade the fickle people that the strange race of 
foreigners, who hated Rome and Rome s gods, had avenged 
themselves and the wrongs they had suffered at the hands of 
the Roman nation, by firing the capital city. 

Up to this time in the eyes of most of the Romans the 
Jew and the Christian were one people ; they considered that 
if any difference at all existed, it was simply that the Christian 
was a dissenting Jew. Now apparently, after the burning of 
Rome, for the first time was any distinction made. It happened 
on this wise : the Jews had powerful friends in the court 
of the despotic Emperor. Poppaea the Empress, if not a 
Jewess, was at least a devoted proselyte of the chosen race. 
There is no doubt but that her influence, backed up no doubt 
by others about her person at the court, diverted the sus 
picions which had been awakened, from the Jews to the Chris 
tians. These, it was pointed out, were no real Jews, but were 
their deadly enemies ; they were a hateful and hated sect 
quite improperly confounded with the chosen people. The 
Christians were now formally accused of being the real authors 
of the late calamity, and the accusation seems to have been 
generally popular among the masses of the Roman population. 
Our authorities for this popular hatred we may style them 
contemporary are Tacitus and Suetonius and the Christian 
Clement of Rome. The testimony of Pliny the Younger, 
who governed Bithynia under the Emperor Trajan, will be 
discussed later. 

Under the orders of Nero who turned to his own purposes 
the popular dislike to the new sect of Jewish fanatics, as they 
generally were supposed to be the Christians were sought for. 
It turned out that there was a vast multitude of them in the 
city, " ingens multitude," says Tacitus ; and Clement of 
Rome, the Christian bishop and writer, circa A.D. 96, also 


speaks of their great numbers. Many of the accused were 
condemned on the false charge of incendiarism, to which was 
added an accusation far harder to disprove general hostility 
to society, and hatred of the world (odio generis humani). 

A crowd of Christians of both sexes was condemned to 
the wild beasts. It was arranged that they should provide 
a hideous amusement for the people who witnessed the games 
just then about to be celebrated in the imperial gardens on 
the Vatican Hill on the very spot where the glorious basilica 
of S. Peter now stands. 

Nero, anxious to restore his waning popularity with the 
crowd, and to divert the strange suspicion which had fixed 
upon him as the incendiary of the great fire, was determined 
that the games should surpass any former exhibition of the 
like kind in the number of victims provided, and in the refined 
cruelty of the awful punishment to which the sufferers were 
condemned. He had in good truth an array of victims for 
his ghastly exhibition such as had never been seen before. A 
like exhibition indeed was never repeated ; the hideousness 
of it positively shocking the Roman populace, cruel though 
they were, and passionately devoted to scenic representations 
which included death and torture, crime and shame. Numbers 
of these first Christian martyrs were simply exposed to the 
beasts ; others clothed in skins were hunted down by fierce 
wild dogs ; others were forced to play a part in -infamous 
dramas, which ever closed with the death of the victims in 
pain and agony. 

But the closing scene was the most shocking. As the night 
fell on the great show, as a novel delight for the populace, 
the Roman people being especially charmed with brilliant 
and striking illuminations, the outer ring of the vast arena 
was encircled with crosses on which a certain number of 
Christians were bound, impaled, or nailed. The condemned 
were clothed in tunics steeped in pitch and in other inflam 
mable matter, and then, horrible to relate, the crucified and 
impaled were set on fire, and in the lurid light of these ghastly 
living torches the famous chariot races, in which the wicked 
Emperor took a part, were run. 

But this was never repeated ; as we have just stated, 


the sight of the living flambeaux, the protracted agony of the 
victims, was too dreadful even for that debased and hardened 
Roman crowd of heedless cruel spectators ; the illuminations 
of Nero s show were never forgotten ; they remained an 
awful memory, but only a memory, even in Rome ! 

There is good reason to suppose that one of the lookers on 
at the games of that long day and sombre evening in the 
gardens of the Vatican Hill was Seneca, the famous Stoic 
philosopher, once the tutor and afterwards for a time the 
minister of Nero. Seneca had retired from public life, and in 
two of his letters written during his retirement to his sick and 
suffering friend Lucilius, encouraging him to bear his distress 
ing malady with brave patience, reminds him of the tortures 
which were now and again inflicted on the condemned ; in 
vivid language picturing the fire, the chains, the worrying 
of wild beasts, the prison horrors, the cross, the tunic steeped 
in pitch, the rack, the red-hot irons placed on the quivering 
flesh. What, he asks his friend, are your sufferings compared 
with sufferings caused by these tortures ? And yet, he adds, 
his eyes had seen these things endured ; from the sufferer no 
groan was heard no cry for mercy nay, in the midst of all 
he had seen the bravely patient victims smile ! 

Surely here the great Stoic was referring to what he had 
witnessed in Nero s dread games of the Vatican gardens ; 
no other scene would furnish such a memory at once weird 
and pathetic. The strange ineffable smile of the Christian 
in pain and agony dying for his God, had gone home 
to the heart of the great scholar statesman. Like many 
another Roman citizen of his day and time, Seneca had often 
seen men die, but he had never before looked on any one dying 
after this fashion ! 

From the days of that ever memorable summer of the 
year 64 until Constantine and Licinius signed the edict which 
in the name of the Emperors gave peace and stillness to the 
harassed Church, A.D. 3i3,froughly speaking a long period of 
two centuries and a half, the sword of persecution was never 
sheathed] For practically from the year 64, the date of the 
famous games in the Vatican gardens, there was a continuous 
persecution of those that confessed the name of Christ. The 


ordinary number of the ten persecutions is after all an arbitrary 
computation. The whole principle and constitution of Chris 
tianity on examination were condemned by the Roman 
government as irreconcilably hostile to the established order ; 
and mere membership of the sect, if persisted in, was regarded 
as treasonable, and the confessors of Christianity became 
liable to the punishment of death. And this remained the 
unvarying, the changeless policy of the Government of the 
State, though not always put in force, until the memorable 
edict of Constantine, A.D. 313. 

After the terrible scenes in the games of the Vatican 
gardens, the persecution of the Christians still continued. 
The charges of incendiarism were dropped, no one believing 
that there was any truth in these allegations ; but in Rome 
and in the provinces the Christian sect from this time forward 
was generally regarded as hostile to the Empire. 

The accusation of being the authors of the great fire had 
revealed many things in connexion with the sect ; the arrests, 
the judicial inquiries, had thrown a flood of new light upon 
the tenets of the new religion, had disclosed its large and 
evidently rapidly increasing numbers. Most probably for 
many years were they still confused with the Jews, but it 
was seen that the new sect was something more than a mere 
body of Jewish dissenters. 

It was universally acknowledged that the Christians were 
innocent of any connexion with the great fire ; but something 
else was discovered ; they were a very numerous company 
(ingens multitude?) intensely in earnest, opposed to_ the State 
religion, preferring in numberless instances torture, confisca 
tion, death, rather than submit to the State regulations in the 
matter of religion. 

For some time before the fire they had been generally 
disliked, possibly hated by very many of the Roman citizens, 
by men of different ranks, for various reasons ; by traders 
who lost much by their avoidance of all idolatrous feasts ; 
by pagan families who resented the proselytism which was 
constantly taking place in their homes, thus causing a breach 
in the family circle ; by priests and those specially connected 
with the network of rites and ceremonies, sacrifices and offer- 


ings belonging to the temples of the old gods. But, after all, 
this widespread popular dislike to the sect was not the chief 
cause of the steady persecution which set in after the wild 
and intemperate scenes which followed the great fire. 

For the first time the imperial government saw with whom 
they had to do. It was the settled policy of Rome steadily 
to repress and to stamp out all organizations, all self-governing 
communities, or clubs, as highly dangerous to the spirit of 
imperial policy ; and as the result of the trials and inquiries 
which followed the fire of Rome, it found in the Christian 
community a living embodiment of this tendency which 
hitherto Rome had succeeded in crushing found that in their 
midst, in the capital and in the provinces, an extra-imperial 
unity was fast growing up an Empire within the Empire. 

In other words, the whole of the principles and the con 
stitution of Christianity were considered as hostile to the 
established order, and if persisted in were to be deemed treason 
able ; thus after the discoveries made in the course of the 
judicial proceedings which were instituted after the great 
fire, the Christians, even after their innocence on the incendiary 
charge was generally acknowledged, were viewed by the 
imperial authorities as a politically dangerous society, being 
an organized and united body having its ramifications all over 
the Empire ; but after the hideous and revolting cruelties to 
which so many of them had been subjected in the famous 
Vatican games, the original charge made against them came 
universally to be considered as an infamous device of the 
Emperor Nero to divert public attention from himself, to 
whom, although probably falsely, the guilt of causing the fire 
was popularly attributed. 

Still there is no doubt that although the alleged connexion 
of the Christian sect with the crime of incendiarism seems to 
have been quickly forgotten, from the year 64 onward " the 
persecution was continued as a permanent police measure, 
under the form of a general prosecution of Christians as a sect 
dangerous to the public safety." 

This, after a lengthened discussion of the whole question, 
is Professor Ramsay s conclusion, 1 who considers it doubtful 

1 The Church in the Roman Empire, xi. 6. 


if any " edict," in the strict sense of the word, was promulgated 
by the Emperor Nero ; and this he deduces from the famous 
correspondence which took place between Pliny, the governor 
of Bithynia, and the Emperor Trajan, some fifty years after 
the events just related in the days of Nero. 

The words of Pliny when he asked for more definite direc 
tions from Trajan in the matter of Christian prosecutions, 
apparently indicate that he considered the Christian question 
not as one coming under some definite law, but as a matter 
of practical administration. 

The more general opinion, however, held by modern Church 
historians is that an edict against the Christians was pro 
mulgated by Nero, and that Domitian specially acted upon 
the edict in the course of the severe measures taken against 
the sect in the later years of his reign ; the words of Melito of 
Sardis (second century), of Tertullian (beginning of third 
century), of the Christian historians writing in the fourth 
century and early years of the fifth century Sulpitius Severus 
and Lactantius, being quoted in support of this view. 

The expressions used by Sulpitius Severus here are cer 
tainly very definite in the matter of the imperial edict. This 
historian founds his account of the persecution under Nero on 
" Tacitus," and then comments as follows : " This was the 
beginning of severe measures against the Christians. After 
wards the religion was forbidden by formal laws, and the 
profession of Christianity was made illegal by published 
edicts " (Chron. ii. 29). 

It is not, however, of great importance if the profession 
of Christianity was formally interdicted, or if a persecution 
was a matter of practical administration, the profession of 
the faith being considered dangerous to law and order, and 
deserving of death as Ramsay supposes. The other con 
clusion is of far greater moment. It is briefly this : 

The first step taken by the imperial government in per 
secution dates certainly from the reign of Nero, immediately 
after the scenes in the Vatican games, when a Christian was 
condemned after evidence had been given that he or she 
had committed some act of hostility to society no difficult 
task to prove. Subsequent to Nero s reign, a further develop- 


ment in the persecutions had taken place (probably in the 
time of Vespasian), in which all Christians were assumed to 
have been guilty of such hostility to society, and might be 
condemned off-hand on confession of the Name. This was the 
state of things when Pliny wrote to Trajan for more detailed 
instructions. The great number of professing Christians 
alarming that upright and merciful official, he asked the 
Emperor was he to send them all to death ? 

The leading feature of the instruction of the Emperor 
Trajan in reply to Pliny s question, as we shall presently see, 
was, although Christians were to be condemned if they con 
fessed the Name, they were not to be sought out. This 
" instruction " held good until the closing years of the 
Empire, when a sterner policy was pursued ; while it is 
indisputable that under Antoninus Pius and Marcus 
Aurelius, a yet more hostile practice was adopted towards the 

One great point is clear that from the days of Nero 
the Christians were never safe ; they lived as their writings 
plainly show, even under the rule of those Emperors who were, 
comparatively speaking, well disposed to them, with the 
vision of martyrdom ever before their eyes ; they lived, not 
a few of them, positively training themselves to endure the 
great trial as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. During the first 
and second centuries, comparatively speaking, only a few names 
of these martyrs and confessors have come down to us : we 
possess but a few really well authenticated recitals (Acts and 
Passions), but these names and stories do not read like excep 
tional cases ; x irresistibly the grave truth forces itself upon us, 
that there were many heroes and heroines whose names have 
not been preserved whose stories have not been recorded. 

The sword of persecution ever hung over the heads of 
the members of the Christian flocks ready to fall at any 
moment. The stern instructions, modified though they 
were by the kindly policy of some of the rulers of the State, 
were never abrogated, never forgotten ; they were sus 
ceptible, it is true, of a gentler interpretation than the harsh 
terms in which they were couched at first seemed to warrant, 

1 This comment cannot be pressed too strongly. 


but these interpretations constantly varied according to 
the policy of the provincial magistrate and the tone for the 
moment of the reigning Emperor ; but we must never think 
of the spirit of persecution really slumbering even for one 
short year. 



IT has been asked, How comes it that for much of the 
first and second centuries there is a remarkable silence 
respecting these persecutions which we are persuaded 
harassed the Christian congregations in the provinces as in the 
great metropolis ? The answer here is not difficult to find. 

The pagan writers of these centuries held the Christian 
sect in deep contempt ; l they would never think the punish 
ments dealt out to a number of law-breakers and wild fanatics 
worthy of chronicling ; the mere loss of life in that age, so 
accustomed to wholesale destruction of human beings, would 
not strike them as a notable incident in any year. 

While as regards Christian records, the practice of cele 
brating the anniversary days of even famous martyrs and 
confessors only began in Rome far on in the third century. 

But, as we shall see, although we possess no Christian 
records definitely telling us of any special persecution between 
the times of Nero and the later years of Domitian, the pages 
of the undoubtedly genuine Christian writings of very early 
date, from which we shall presently quote, were unmistakably 
all written under the shadow of a restless relentless hostility 
on the part of the Roman government towards the Christian 
sect. The followers of Jesus we see ever lived under the 
shadow of persecution. 

Never safe for a single day was the life of one who believed 
in the Name ; his life and the life of his dear ones were never 
for an instant secure : he and his family were at the mercy 
of every enemy, open and secret. Confiscation, degradation 

1 It is this which makes the vivid picture which the younger Pliny, in his 
Letter to Trajan, paints of Christian life and influence in a great province so 



from rank and position, banishment, imprisonment, torture, 
death, were ever threatening him. A hard, stern combat, 
indeed, was the daily life of every Christian disciple. Many 
came out as victors from the terrible trial ; this we learn 
from such writings as the Shepherd of Hernias, but some, 
alas ! we learn from that same vivid and truthful picture of 
Hermas, flinched and played the traitor when the hour of 
decision between Christ and the pagan gods struck, as it 
often, very often, did in the so-called quiet days of the Flavian 

But it is only from the general character and spirit of 
the early Christian writers that we gather this ; it is only 
from the allusions scattered up and down these striking and 
pathetic pages, which after all had other and nobler work before 
them than to record the many sufferings and martyrdoms 
of the brethren, that we learn what was the character of the 
hard life the followers of Jesus had to lead. So far from exag 
gerating, these writers give a very imperfect account of the 
sufferings of that period. 

But in spite of this dark shadow of danger under which the 
Christian always lived, a cloud which for two hundred and fifty 
years never really lifted ; in spite of popular dislike and of public 
condemnation, the numbers of the persecuted sect multiplied 
with startling rapidity in all lands, among all the various 
peoples massed together under the rule of the Empire, and 
called by the name of Romans. Their great number attracted 
the attention of pagan writers such as Tacitus, writing of the 
martyrdoms of A.D. 64 ; of Pliny, speaking of what he witnessed 
in A.D. 112 ; of Christian writers like Tertullian, giving a picture 
of the sect at the end of the second century. 

In the middle years of this second century, only a little 
more than a hundred years after the Resurrection morning, 
when the Antonines were reigning, we know that there were 
large congregations in Spain and Gaul, in Germany, in North 
Africa, in Egypt and in Syria, besides the great and powerful 
Church in Rome. 

All that we learn of the busy, earnest, strenuous life of these 
early Christian communities, of their noble charities, of their 
active propaganda, of their grave and successful contentions 


with the heretical teachers who successively arose in their 
midst, makes it hard to believe that they were ever living, 
as it were, under the very shadow of persecution which might 
burst upon them at any moment ; and yet well-nigh all the 
writings of these early days are coloured with these anticipa 
tions of torture, confiscation, imprisonment, and death, a death 
of pain and agony. The Apocalypse refers to these things 
again and again Clement of Rome in his grave and measured 
Epistle Hermas and Ignatius, Justin and Tertullian, and 
somewhat later Cyprian writing in the middle of the third 
century aUude to these things as part of the everyday 
Christian life. They give us, it is true, few details, little 
history of the events which were constantly happening ; but 
as we read, we feel that the thought of martyrdom was con 
stantly present with them. 

Now what was the attraction to this Christianity, the 
profession of which was so fraught with danger so sur 
rounded with deadly peril ? 

" Le candidat au Christianisme, etait, par le fait meme, 
candidat au Martyre," graphically writes the brilliant and 
careful French scholar Duchesne. The Christian verily 
exposed himself and his dear ones to measureless penalties. 
Now what had he to gain by such a dangerous adventure ? 

It is true that martyrdom itself possessed a special at 
traction for some. The famous chapters of Ignatius Letter 
to the Roman Church, written circa A.D. 109-10, very vividly 
picture this strange charm. The constancy of the confessor, 
the calm serenity with which he endured tortures, the smil 
ing confidence with which he welcomed a death often of pain 
and suffering his eyes fixed upon something invisible to 
mortal eyes which he saw immediately before him, all this 
was new in the world of Rome ; it was at once striking and 
admirable. Such a sight, and it was a frequent one, was 
indeed inspiring " Why should not I," thought many a 
believer in Jesus, " share in this glorious future ? Why 
should not I form one of this noble band of elect and blessed 
souls ? " 

Then again another attraction to Christianity was ever 


present in the close union which existed among the members 
of the community. 

In this great Brotherhood, without any attempt to level 
down the wealthier Christians, without any movement 
towards establishing a general community of goods, the 
warmest feelings of friendship and love were cultivated between 
all classes and degrees. The Christian teachers pointed out 
with great force that in the eyes of the divine Master no differ 
ence existed between the slave and the free-born, between the 
patrician and the little trader ; with Him there was perfect 
equality. Sex and age, rank and fortune, poverty and riches, 
country and race, with Him were of no account. All men 
and women who struggled after the life He loved, were His 
dear servants. The result of all this was shown in the 
generous and self-denying love of the wealthier members 
of the flock towards their poor and needy brothers and 

This is conspicuously shown in the wonderful story of the 
vast cemeteries of the suburbs of Rome, where at a very early 
date the rich afforded the hospitality of the tomb to their 
poor friends. 

Most of the so-called " catacombs " began in the gardens 
of the rich and noble, where the little family God s acre was 
speedily opened to the proletariat and the slave, who after death 
were tenderly and lovingly cared for, and laid to sleep with 
all reverence alongside the members of the patrician house 
to whom the cemetery belonged, and which in numberless 
instances was enlarged to receive these poor and humble 

But, after all, great and different though these various 
attractive influences were, and which no doubt in countless 
cases brought unnumbered men and women of all ranks and 
orders into the ranks of Christianity, there was something 
more which united all these various nationalities, these different 
grades, with an indissoluble bond of union ; something more 
which enabled them to live on year after year in the shadow of 
persecution in daily danger of losing all that men most prize 
and hold dear ; something more which gave them that serene 
courage at the last, which inspired the great army of bravely 


patient martyrs to witness a good confession for the Name s 
sake. It was that burning, that living faith in the great 
sacrifice of their loving Master the faith which in the end 
vanquished even pagan Rome the faith which comes from 
no books or arguments, no preaching and no persuasion 
from no learning however profound and sacred from no 
human arsenal, however furnished with truth and righteous 

It was that strong and deathless faith which is the gift of 
God alone, and which in a double portion was the gift of the 
Holy Ghost to the sorely tried Church in the heroic age of 

After the death of Nero, during the very brief reigns of 
Galba Otho and Vitellius, probably the persecution of Chris 
tians, owing to the disturbed state of Rome and the Empire, 
languished. When, however, the Flavian House in the 
person of Vespasian was firmly placed in power,, the policy 
of the government of Nero, which held that the Christians 
were a sect the tendency of whose beliefs and practice was 
hostile to the very foundations and established principles of 
the Roman government, was strictly adhered to, and possibly 
even developed. 

The followers of the sect were deemed outlaws, and the 
name of a Christian was treated as a crime. 

There is a famous passage in Sulpicius Severus (fourth 
century) which most modern scholars consider to have been 
an extract from a lost book of Tacitus. It is an account 
of a Council of War held after the storming of Jerusalem, 
A.D. 70. In this Council, Titus the son and heir of Vespasian 
the hero of the great campaign which closed with the fall of 
Jerusalem is reported to have expressed the opinion that the 
Temple ought to be destroyed in order that the religion of the 
Jews and of the Christians might be more completely rooted 
up ; for these religions, though opposed to each other, had yet 
the same origin. The Christians had sprung from the Jews, 
and when the root was torn up the stem issuing from the root 
would easily be destroyed. There is no doubt but that this 
report of Titus speech at the Council of War is an historical 


document of the utmost importance. It tells us exactly what 
was the feeling of the imperial Flavian House towards the 
Christians they represented an evil which it was well to 

It is possible that in a mutilated passage of Suetonius a 
reference occurs to Vespasian s actions at this period (in the 
year following A.D. 70) in respect to the Christians. The 
passage runs as follows : " Never in the death of any one did 
Vespasian (take pleasure, and in the case of) merited punish 
ments he even wept and groaned." This is clearly a reference 
to some class of individuals whose punishment Vespasian felt 
bound to accept, while he regretted it. " It is inconceivable that 
Vespasian, a Roman soldier of long experience in the bloody 
wars of Britain and Judaea, wept and groaned at every merited 
execution. . . . We think of the punishments which by 
the principle of Nero attached to the Christians . . . the 
principle in question continued permanently, and Suetonius 
alluded to it on account of the detail, interesting to a bio 
grapher, that Vespasian wept while he confirmed its operation." l 

But a yet more precise statement, that persecution was 
actively continued under Vespasian, is to be found in the Latin 
Father, Hilary of Poitiers, who ranks Vespasian between Nero 
and Decius as a persecutor of the Faith. 2 Some critics have 
supposed this notice an error. Lightfoot, however, thinks 
it more probable that it was based upon some facts of history 
known to Hilary, but since blotted out by time from the records 
of history. 3 

Towards the end of Domitian s reign, circa A.D. 95, the 
persecution became more bitter. Indeed, so severely were the 
Christians hunted out and prosecuted that the period had 
become memorable in history. Domitian is constantly men- 

1 See Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, xii. 2. 

2 See Hilary (Poitiers), Contra Artanos, 3. 

3 Bishop Lightfoot discusses at some length the great probability of the 
accuracy of this definite statement of S. Hilary of Poitiers, and decides that 
the absence of any mention of Vespasian among the persecutors in Melito 
and Tertullian by no means invalidates Hilary s mention ; no systematic 
record was kept of the persecutions ; the knowledge possessed by each 
individual writer was accidental and fragmentary. Lightfoot, Ignatius and 
Polycarp, vol. i. pp. 15, 16. 


tioned as the second great persecutor, Nero being the first. The 
reason doubtless for this general tradition is that in A.D. 
95, persons of the highest rank, some even belonging to the 
imperial family, were among the condemned ; notably Flavius 
Clemens the Consul, and the two princesses bearing the name of 
Domitilla all these being very near relatives of the Emperor. 

The violent outbreak of persecution, fierce and terrible as 
it seems to have been in the last year and a half of Domitian s 
reign, does not appear to have been owing to any special 
movement among the Christian subjects of the Empire which 
aroused attention and suggested distrust, but was solely owing 
to the Emperor s private policy and personal feelings. There 
is nothing to show that any edict against the sect was promul 
gated in this reign. Since the time of Nero the persecution of 
Christians was a standing matter, as was that of persons who 
were habitual law-breakers, robbers, and such like. Probably 
under the princes of the Flavian dynasty, as we have said, this 
policy of the government was somewhat developed throughout 
the Empire, and now and again, owing to local circumstances 
and the disposition of the chief magistrate, was more or less 
severe. It is said that some governors boasted that they had 
brought back from their province their lictors axes unstained 
with blood ; but others were actuated with very different 

In the case of the so-called Domitian persecution, the ill-will 
of the autocratic Emperor naturally intensified it. Various 
motives seem to have influenced the sovereign Lord of the 
Empire here. 

Domitian was a sombre and suspicious tyrant, and no 
doubt his cruel action in the case of his relatives, the consul 
Flavius and the princesses of his House, was prompted by 
jealousy of those who stood nearest his throne, and the fact 
that they were found to belong to the proscribed sect gave him a 
pretext of which he was glad to avail himself. But his bloody 
vengeance was by no means only wreaked upon his own rela 
tives. We learn from the pagan writer Dion Cassius (in the 
epitome of his work by the monk Xiphilin) and also from 
Suetonius, that he put to death various persons of high position, 
notably Acilius Glabrio who had been consul in A.D. 91. 


This Acilius Glabrio was also a Christian. The researches and 
discoveries of De Rossi and Marruchi in the older portion of 
the vast Catacomb of S. Priscilla have conclusively proved 

There was another reason, however, for Domitian s special 
hatred of the Christian sect. The Emperor was a vigilant 
censor, and an austere guardian of the ancient Roman tradi 
tions. In this respect he has with some justice been cited as 
pursuing the same policy as did his great predecessor Augustus, 
and, like him, he looked on the imperial cultus l as part of 
the State religion. Domitian felt that these ancient traditions 
which formed a part of Roman life were compromised by the 
teaching and practices of the Christian sect. No doubt this 
was one of the principal reasons which influenced him in his 
active persecution of the followers of Jesus. 

But although he struck at some of the noblest and most 
highly placed in the Empire, especially, as it seems, those sus 
pected of being members of the hated sect, he appears to 
have vented his fury also upon many who belonged to the 
lower classes of the citizens. Juvenal in a striking passage 
evidently alludes to his pursuit of these comparatively un 
known and obscure ones, and traces the unpopularity which 
eventually led to his assassination to this persecution of the 
poor nameless citizen. 2 

1 " Domitian loved to be identified with Jupiter, and to be idolized as the 
Divine Providence in human form ; and it is recorded that Caligula, Domitian, 
and Diocletian were the three Emperors who delighted to be styled dominus 
et deus." 

2 He struck (says the Roman poet), without exciting popular indignation, 
at the illustrious citizen : 

" Tempora saevitise, claras quibus abstulit Urbi 
Illustresque animas impune, et vindice nullo." 

But when his rage touched the people he fell : 

" Sed periit, postquam cerdonibus esse timendus 
coeperat " . . . (Juvenal, iv. 151-4). 

The word cerdones included the poorest and humblest artisans. The 
word is commonly translated " cobblers " French savetiers ; it is usually 
applied to the slave class, or to those engaged in the poorest industries. 

Allard (Histoire des Persecutions, i. n, chap, iv.) considers that the disgust 
and pity of the populace when they saw the horrible cruelties practised in 
the celebrated games of Nero in A.D. 64, were partly owing to the indignation 


Domitian was assassinated A.D. 96, and was succeeded by 
the good and gentle Emperor Nerva. The active and bitter 
persecution which Domitian carried on in the latter years of 
his reign, as far as we know, ceased, and once more the Christian 
sect was left in comparative quiet, that is to say, they were 
still in the position of outlaws, the sword of persecution ever 
hanging over their heads. The law which forbade their very 
existence was there, if any one was disposed to call it into 
action. The passion of the populace, the bigotry of a magistrate, 
or the malice of some responsible personage, might at any 
moment awake the slumbering law into activity. These 
various malicious influences, ever ready, were constantly setting 
the law in motion. This we certainly gather from Pliny s 
reference to the " Cognitiones " or inquiries into accusations 
set on foot against Christians in his famous letter to the Em 
peror Trajan. 

of the people when they perceived that so many of their own class were among 
the tormented Christians in that horrible massacre. 

Aube, too, in his Histoire des Persecutions, calls special attention to these 
lines of Juvenal. He connects the murder of Domitian closely with the indig 
nation aroused among the people by this bitter persecution, and suggests 
that the plot which resulted in the assassination of the tyrant originated in a 
Christian centre. This is, however, in the highest degree improbable. 






A FLOOD of light is poured upon the early history of 
Christianity in the correspondence which passed between 
the Emperor Trajan and his friend and minister Pliny 
the Younger, who had been appointed to the governorship l of 
Bithynia and Pontus, the district lying in the north of Asia Minor. 
The letter of Pliny, containing his report of the trial and 
inquiry into the matter of the accused Christians of his province, 
and asking for direction, was written to the Emperor Trajan 
in the autumn of A.D. in ; and the reply of Trajan, which con 
tained the famous rescript concerning the Christian sect an 
ordinance which regulated the action of the government of 
Rome towards the disciples of Jesus for many long years was 
dispatched a few months later. 

The correspondence was quoted and commented upon 
at some length by the Latin Father Tertullian before the close 
of the second century. Eusebius again refers to it, trans 
lating the quotations of Tertullian from a Greek version of the 
celebrated Christian Father. 2 

1 The full official title of Pliny the Younger in this governorship was 
" Legatus propraetore provinciae Ponti et Bithyniae consulari potestate." 
That eminent statesman was entrusted \\ith this province mainly on account 
of its needing special attention at that time. 

2 Tertullian, Apologcticum, 2 ; Eusebius, H. E. in. xxxii. 33. 



For various reasons, some critics have thrown doubt upon 
the genuineness of these two famous letters. The main cause 
of the hesitation in receiving them is the strong evidence con 
tained in the correspondence bearing upon the existence and 
influence and great numbers of the Christian sect at the be 
ginning of the second century. That a pagan author should 
supply us with the information and especially a pagan author 
of the rank and position which the younger Pliny held 
the adversaries of the Faith misliked. 

These very doubts, however, as in other cases of doubt 
respecting the authenticity of some of our Christian and pagan 
writings bearing on the facts of very early Christianity, have 
established the genuineness of the pieces in question, the doubts 
requiring an answer, and the answer involving a careful and 
thoughtful investigation. It is singular, in their scarcely 
veiled hostility to the religion of Jesus, how some scholars 
attempt to discredit all the references to the Christians in early 
heathen writers. 

In this case the investigation has completely proved the 
genuineness of the correspondence in question. Bishop Light- 
foot, in the course of his thorough and scholarly examination, 
does not hesitate to write that the genuineness of the important 
Letters " can now only be questioned by a scepticism bordering 
on insanity." 

Amongst other critics who completely brush away all 
doubts here, he quotes Aldus Manutius, Mommsen, and the 
French writer (no friend to Christianity) Renan. The same 
view is also unhesitatingly taken by Allard and Boissier in 
France, and Ramsay in England. In any controversy which 
may arise here obviously the attestation of Tertullian in the 
last years of the century in which the Letters were written is 
of the highest value. 1 

1 Lightfoot well observes (Apostolic Fathers, part ii. vol. i., S. Ignatius, 
pp. 54-6) that these two famous letters cannot be separated from the 
collection of Pliny s Letters in which they appear. Renan in Les vaniles 
writes: " On ne croira jamais qu un faussaire Chretien eut pu si admirable- 
ment imiter la langue precieuse et raffmee de Pline." 

Lightfoot further asks, what Christian writer, if bent on forgery, would 
have confessed that crowds of Ms fellow-believers had denied their faith . . . 
that the persecution was already refilling the heathen temples which before 


were nearly empty, and that there was good hope, if the same policy of per 
secution was pursued, of a general apostasy from Christianity ensuing ? 
Several, too, of the statements concerning the practices of Christians betray 
only a very imperfect knowledge of the practices referred to. 

The passage which, however, has excited the greatest suspicion and 
animosity is that which relates to the great numbers of the Christians ; but it 
must be remembered that Tacitus had already spoken of " a vast multitude " 
as suffering at Rome in the persecution of the Emperor Nero. 



WHEN Domitian was assassinated, and Nerva was pro 
claimed Emperor, a new spirit was introduced into the 
occupants of the imperial dignity. Nerva represented 
the old conservative and aristocratic spirit of the Roman Senate. 
He only reigned a short two years, but his great act was the 
association in the supreme power of one who in all respects 
would and could carry out the ancient traditions of Roman 
government, of which Nerva was a true representative. 

Nerva died early in 98, and his associate Trajan at once 
became sole Emperor. In many respects this Trajan was the 
greatest of the despotic masters who in succession ruled the 
Roman world. At once a renowned soldier and a far-seeing 
statesman, his complex personality is admirably and tersely 
summed up by Allard (Histoire des Persecutions, i. 145), who 
writes of him : "On cut cru voir le senat romain lui-m^me 
prenant une ame guerriere et montant sur le trone." 

As a rule, writers of sacred history treat the memory of 
Trajan with great gentleness. The Christian writers in the 
second half of the second century shrink from seeing in him a 
persecutor of the Church. They were, of course, biassed in their 
judgment, being loth to think of a great Emperor like Trajan 
as a persecutor of their religion. As we have already remarked, 
the written Acts of Martyrs were very few during the first 
and second centuries ; and the name and memory of the 
earliest brave confessors of the Name, save in a few very 
notable instances, quietly and quickly faded away ; so the 
recollections of the second-century Fathers in the matter of 
the State policy in the past, with regard to Christianity, were 
somewhat vague and uncertain. Later, in the early and middle 


years of the fourth century, Eusebius, though in his time the 
fact of continuous persecution in the past had become generally 
known, tries to exculpate the memory of Trajan as a perse 
cutor, but with very doubtful success. 

This favourable and somewhat generous view of Trajan 
held its own through the early Middle Ages. A striking and 
beautiful story illustrative of these estimates is told of Pope 
Gregory the Great (A.D. 590-604) by both his biographers, 
Paul the Deacon (close of eighth century) and John the Deacon 
(close of ninth century). The Bishop of Rome once, walking 
through the Forum of Trajan, was attracted by a sculptured 
bas-relief representing the great Emperor showing pity to a 
poor aged widow whose only son had perished through the 
violence of the Emperor s soldiers. 

Struck by this proof of the just and loving nature of 
Trajan, the Pope, kneeling at the tomb of S. Peter, prayed 
earnestly that mercy might be showed to the great pagan 
emperor. The prayer, so runs the story, was granted ; and 
it was revealed to Gregory that the soul of Trajan was released 
from torment in answer to his intercession. The beauty and 
noble charity which colour the legend are, however, spoiled 
and marred by the words of the traditional revelation which 
follow. The generous Pope, while hearing that his prayers 
were granted, was w r arned never again to presume to pray for 
those who had died without holy baptism. 

Not a few modern scholars, however, read the famous 
interposition of Trajan at the time of Pliny s request for 
guidance as manifesting a hostile spirit towards Christianity ; 
so, to quote a few of the better-known writers, interpret 
Gieseler, Overbach, Aube, Friedlander, Uhlhorn, etc., while 
Renan (Les Evangiles) perhaps more accurately writes : 
" Trajan fut le premier persecuteur systematique de Christi- 
anisme " ; and again, " a partir de Trajan le Christianisme est 
un crime." 

The truth, however, really lies between these two divergent 
opinions. The " rescript " of Trajan promulgated no new 
law on the subject of the treatment of the Christian be 
lievers. It evidently presupposed the existence of a law, and 
that a very stern and very harsh mode of procedure. From 


it Trajan neither subtracted anything nor added anything ; 
still, as has been very justly said, the humane and up 
right character of the Emperor and his minister Pliny 
Pliny, by his evident, though carefully veiled, advice and 
suggestions based upon his protracted inquiries into the 
tenets and customs of the sect ; Trajan, by his formal im 
perial " rescript "secured some considerable mitigation in 
its enforcement. 

The story of the correspondence between Pliny the 
Younger and the Emperor Trajan, which was fraught with 
such momentous consequences to the Christians of Rome 
and the Empire generally, is as follows : 

When Pliny, about the middle of the year in, came to 
the scene of his government, the provinces of Bithynia and 
Pontus, apparently somewhat to his surprise he found a 
very considerable portion of the population members of the 
Christian community. The religion professed by these people, 
Pliny was well aware, was unlawful in the eyes of the State, 
and the sect generally was unpopular ; and evil rumours 
were current respecting its traditional practices. 

The new governor knew of the existence of the sect in 
Rome, but little more. He was clearly aware that these 
Christians had been the object of many State persecutions 
and judicial inquiries, " cognitiones " he terms them, and no 
doubt knew something, too, of the public severity with which 
these adherents of an unlawful religion had been treated by 
the State when convicted of the crime of Christianity. 

The horrors of the amphitheatre in the case of these con 
demned ones could not have been unknown to one like Pliny. 
But the great world in which Pliny lived and moved and 
worked, cared little for human life or human suffering in the 
case of a despised and outlawed community. 

The Roman teacher and patrician of the days of Trajan 
held human life very cheaply. The amphitheatre games, to 
take one phase only of Roman life in the days of the Empire, 
were an evil education for Rome. The execution, the suffer 
ings of a few score Christian outlaws, however frequently re 
peated, would attract very little attention in Pliny s world. 


But now in his new government he was brought face to 
face with grave difficulties occasioned by the practices and 
teaching of this Christianity. And when he discovered in 
addition how numerous a body these followers of the forbidden 
religion were, Pliny set himself in good earnest to investigate 
the Christian question. 

More than fifty years had passed since S. Peter first preached 
the gospel and laid the foundation stories of the Christian 
Church in these northern provinces of Asia Minor. The 
religion of Jesus had rapidly taken root in these districts. 
This we gather from the First Epistle of Peter, which he wrote 
to the followers of Jesus in the north of Asia Minor from 
Rome in the closing years of his ministry ; and now Pliny 
found in his province no novel faith growing up, but a faith 
which had taken deep root in the hearts of the population, 
not only in the towns, but also in the more remote villages 
(neque enim civitates tantum sed vicos etiam atque agros 
superstitionis istius contagio pervagata est), with the result 
that the old pagan cult was being gradually abandoned. The 
temples were being fast deserted (prope jam desolata templa), 
the sacred rites were being given up, and what evidently 
excited bitter complaints on the part of the traders who 
suffered, there was no longer any market for the fodder of the 
beasts sacrificed (pastum . . . victimarum quarum adhuc 
rarissimus emptor invent ebatur). 

From the report of Pliny to the Emperor, it is evident 
that there had been several judicial inquiries (cognitiones) , 
conducted by him as the responsible governor of Bithynia 
and Pontus, into the charges brought against the adherents 
of the unlawful faith. 

In the first " cognitio " the more prominent Christians 
were brought before him. These all at once avowed their 
religion. Three times they were interrogated by Pliny. As 
they persisted in the avowal that they were Christians, the 
provincials were at once condemned to death. Those who 
claimed Roman citizenship were sent to Rome for their 
sentences to be confirmed. 

The publicity of these first inquiries stimulated further 
accusations ; various degrees of guilt were alleged, and subse- 


quently an anonymous paper was put before the governor 
implicating a whole crowd of persons. 

Of these, some denied that they were, or ever had been, 
Christians. These, on offering incense before the image of 
the Emperor and cursing Christ, were at once liberated. 

Others confessed, but professed repentance. These he 
reserved for the decision of the Emperor. It is not explicitly 
said that of this second and larger group of " accused," some 
persisted in their adherence to the " Name." There is no 
doubt that such were treated as in the first group, some being 
put to death ; others, as Roman citizens, reserved for the 
imperial decision. 

It was then that Pliny, especially disturbed at the numbers 
of accused Christians, determined upon a more searching 
investigation into the manners and customs of these numerous 
adherents of the unlawful religion. He would learn for himself 
more of the " detestable " rites and other crimes with which 
these persons were charged. 

Two Christian deaconesses are mentioned as being examined 
under torture ; others were closely questioned, and the result 
of the inquiries to Pliny was startling. 

He satisfied himself that the monstrous charges were 
absolutely unproven. All their rites were simple, perfectly 
harmless, and unostentatious. Pliny in the course of his 
inquiry found that they were in the habit of meeting together, 
on a day appointed, before sunrise ; that they would then 
sing together a hymn to Christ as God ; that they would 
bind themselves by a solemn vow sacr amentum (Pliny was 
evidently not aware that the sacramentum in question was the 
Holy Eucharist ; indeed the whole narrative is evidently told 
by one who very imperfectly grasped the Christian idea, 
although it is strangely accurate in many of the details). 
The purport of the vow was that they would commit neither 
theft nor adultery ; that they would never break their word ; 
never betray a trust committed to them. 

The just magistrate was evidently deeply impressed with 
the result of his careful and searching examinations. This 
strange sect, he was convinced, was absolutely innocent of all 
those dark offences with which they were commonly charged 


like another and more sadly notorious Roman judge sitting in 
another and more awful judgment-scene, who after hearing 
the case, from that time sought to release the pale -prisoner 
before him. So at once after hearing the Christian story, 
Pliny too, convinced of the perfect innocence of the accused, 
altered his opinion concerning Christians ; but for State 
reasons would not release them, and while acquitting them 
of all wrong-doing, in the ordinary sense of the word, chose to 
see an evil and exaggerated superstition colouring all their 
works and days. 1 Innocent though they were of anything 
approaching crime in the ordinary sense of the term, the 
Roman magistrate deemed the inflexible obstinacy of the 
Christian deserved the severest punishment that could be 
inflicted, even death ; for when the individual Christian in 
question was examined, he proved to be immovable on 
questions of vital importance. He refused to swear by the 
genius of the Emperor. He would not scatter the customary 
grains of incense on the altar of Rome and Augustus, or of 
any of the pagan gods. His religious offence was inextricably 
bound up with the political offence. He stood, as it had been 
well expressed, self-convicted of " impiety," of " atheism/ of 
" high treason." 

Still, after all these points had been taken into consideration, 
there is no doubt that Pliny was deeply moved by what he 
learned from his close examination of the Christian cause ; and 
this new, this gentle, this more favourable estimate of his 
concerning the " outlawed " sect of Christians, was scarcely 
veiled in his official report of the case when he asked for the 
Emperor Trajan s advice and direction. 

He was, we learn, especially induced to write to the Emperor 
when he became aware of the vast numbers of Christians who 
had been, or were about to be, brought before his tribunal. 
The numbers of the accused evidently appalled him. How 
would the Emperor wish him to deal with such a multitude ? 

Very brief but very clear was the answer of Trajan to his 
friend and confidant the governor of Bithynia and Pontus. 
This answer contained the famous imperial " rescript " which 

1 " Sed nihil aliud inveni, quam superstitionem pravam ct immodicam. * 
Pliny, Ep. x. 96. 


in the matter of the Christians was " to run " not only in 
Rome itself, but in all the provinces of the wide Empire, and 
which, as is well known, guided the State persecution of 
Christians for many a long year. 

The " rescript " bore unmistakably the impress of Pliny s 
mind on the subject ; and severe though it was, it inaugurated 
a gentler and more favourable interpretation of the stern 
law in the case of convicted Christians than had prevailed 
from the days of Nero onward. 

The following are the principal points of the " rescript." 
In the first place and this point must be pressed no fresh 
law authorizing any special persecution of the Christians was 
needed or even suggested by Pliny. They had evidently 
for a long period, apparently from the days of Nero, been 
classed as outlaws (hostes piiblici) and enemies to the funda 
mental principles of law and order, and the mere acknowledg 
ment on the part of the accused of the name Christian was 
sufficient in itself to warrant an immediate condemnation to 

Trajan s reply, which constituted the famous rescript, was 
studiedly brief, eminently courteous, but imperious and 
decisive. The friendly bias of Pliny s report and unmistak 
ably favourable opinion of the Christian sect, lives along 
every line. 

He begins with a few graceful words approving Pliny s 
action in the matter. (" Actum quem debuisti mi Secunde 
. . . secutus es.") 

Then follow the stern, unalterable words which attach 
the penalty of death to any person who persisted in claiming 
the name of Christian. 

But extenuating circumstances, such as youth, may be 
taken into account, if the magistrate please to do so. 

Any approach to repentance, accompanied with compliance 
with the law of the Empire, in the matter of offering incense 
on the pagan altars, is to be accepted, and the offender at once 
is to be pardoned. 

The magistrate is by no means to search for Christians ; 
but if a formal accusation be made by an open accuser, 
then inquiry must follow ; and if the accused recognizes the 


justice of the charge, and declines to recant, then death must 

The accusation of an anonymous person, however, must 
never be received ; the Emperor adding his strongest con 
demnation of all anonymous denunciations. This kind of 
thing does not," writes Trajan, " belong to our age and time/ 

Tertullian (closing years of second century) quotes and 
sharply criticizes Trajan s " rescript." He writes somwehat as 
follows : " What a contradictory pronouncement it is. The 
Emperor forbids the Christians should be searched for he 
therefore looks on them surely as innocent persons ; and then 
he directs that if any are brought before the tribunal, they 
must be punished with death as though they were guilty ones ! 
In the same breath he spares them and rages against them. 
He stultifies himself ; for if Christians are to be condemned as 
Christians, why are they not to be searched for ? If, on the 
other hand, they are to be considered as innocent persons and in 
consequence not to be searched for, why not acquit them at once 
when they appear before the tribunal ? . . . You condemn an 
accused Christian, yet you forbid him to be inquired after. 
So punishment is inflicted, not because he is guilty, but because 
he has been discovered, though anything which might bring 
him to light is forbidden." (Apology 2.) 

The brilliant and eloquent Latin Father, with the acuteness 
of a trained and skilful lawyer, lays bare the illogical character 
of the imperial rescript. The truth was that after carefully 
weighing the facts laid before him by Pliny, the Emperor 
clearly recognized that such an organization so far-reaching, 
so numerous and powerful, was contrary to the established 
principles of Roman government. The Christian sect must 
be discouraged, and if possible suppressed ; but Trajan saw 
at the same time that the spirit of the Christians, their teaching 
and practice, were absolutely innocent, even morally excellent ; 
so he shrank from logically carrying out the severe measures 
devised by the Roman government in such cases. In other 
words, his really noble and generous nature prevented him 
sanctioning the wholesale destruction which a strictly logical 
interpretation of the Roman law would have brought upon a 
very numerous body of his subjects. 


But in spite of the evident goodwill of the great Emperor 
and his eminent lieutenant, the sword of persecution was left 
hanging over the heads of the Christian sect suspended by a very 
slender cord. How often the slender cord snapped is told in 
the tragic story of the Christians in the pagan empire during 
the two hundred years which followed the correspondence 
between Pliny and Trajan. 

The information supplied by these Letters respecting 
Christianity at the beginning of the second century, 
emanating as they do from so trusted a statesman, so 
distinguished a writer, as the younger Pliny, supplemented 
by a State communication containing an imperial rescript 
of far-reaching importance from the hands of one of 
the greatest of the Roman Emperors, is so weighty that it 
seems to call for a slightly more detailed notice than the 
particulars which appear in the foregoing pages of this work. 

There is no doubt but that " Letters " such as those 
written by Pliny during the eventful period extending from 
the days of the Dictatorship of Julius Caesar to the reign of 
Honorius a period roughly of some four hundred and fifty 
years occupied in the literature of Rome a singular and 
important position. 

They were in many cases most carefully prepared and 
designed for a far larger " public " than is commonly supposed. 
Long after the death of the writer these Letters, gathered 
together and " published " as far as literary works could be 
published in those ages when no printing-press existed were 
read and re-read, admired and criticized, by very many in the 
capital and in the provinces. 

The first great Letter writer undoubtedly was Cicero, who 
flourished as a statesman, an orator, and a most distinguished 
writer from the days of the first consulship of Pompey and 
Crassus, in 70 B.C., down to the December of 43 B.C., when he 
was murdered during the proscription of the Triumvirate. 

Of the multifarious works of the great orator, possibly the 
most generally interesting is the collection of his Letters, a large 
portion of which have come down to us. 

The art of " Letter-writing " suddenly arose in Cicero s 


hands in Rome to its full perfection. It has been well and truly 
Said that all the great letter-writers of subsequent ages have 
more or less consciously or unconsciously followed the model 
of Cicero. 

But it was in the Roman Empire that the fashion was most 
generally adopted ; of course, in common with so much of 
classical literature, the majority of this interesting and sug 
gestive literature has perished, but some of it perhaps the best 
portion of it has survived. The great name of Seneca is 
specially connected with this form of literature. L. Annaeus 
Seneca wrote the Epistolce Morales, probably " publishing " 
the first three books himself circa A.D. 57. Among these 
precious reliquiae the " Letters of Pliny," including his famous 
Letter to Trajan and the response, are very highly prized by 
the historian and annalist. 

The younger Pliny was the nephew and adopted son of 
the elder Pliny. He was a successful lawyer, and was highly 
trained in all branches of literature. During his brilliant 
career he filled most of the public offices of State in turn, and 
in the end became consul. Of the Emperor Trajan he was 
the trusted and intimate friend. Trajan appointed him, as 
we have seen, imperial legate of Bithynia and Pontus, and 
when holding this important post the famous correspondence 
between the Emperor and his friend took place. Pliny died 
some time before his imperial master, not many years after 
the famous letter respecting the Christians in his province was 

His was a charming character, kindly, beneficent, charit 
able, deeply impressed with the grave responsibilities of his 
position and fortune. Carefully educated and trained under 
the auspices of the elder Pliny, a profound scholar and one 
of the most weighty writers of the early Empire, the younger 
Pliny, as he is generally called, won distinction at a compara 
tively early age as a forensic orator. He became Praetor at 
the age of thirty-one. During the reign of Domitian, however, 
he took no share in public life. Under Nerva he again was 
employed in the State service. Trajan loved and trusted him, 
and we read of Pliny being consul in A.D. 100. He subse 
quently obtained the government of the great provinces of 


Bithynia and Pontus, and during his tenure of office there 
must be dated the correspondence between Trajan and Pliny 
which has come down to us as the tenth Book of the " Letters 
of Pliny." 

This Pliny has been described as the kindliest of Roman 
gentlemen, but he was far more than that. He was a noble 
example of the trained and cultured patrician, an ardent and 
industrious worker, an honest and honourable statesman of 
no mean ability, very learned, ambitious only of political 
distinction when he felt that high rank and authority gave 
him ampler scope to serve his country and his fellows. He 
was, we learn from his own writings, by no means a solitary 
specimen of the chivalrous and noble men who did so much to 
build up the great Empire, and to render possible that far- 
reaching (t Pax Romana " which for so many years gave 
prosperity and a fair amount of happiness to the world known 
under the immemorial name of Rome. 

What we know of Pliny and his friends goes far to modify 
the painful impressions of Roman society of the first two 
centuries which we gather from the pages of Juvenal and other 
writers, who have painted their pictures of Roman life in the 
first and second centuries of the Christian era in such lurid and 
gloomy colours. 

It is in the " Letters of Pliny " that the real story of his 
life and work has come down to us. These letters are no 
ordinary or chance collection. They are a finished work of 
great deliberation and thought. 

About a century and a half earlier, the large collection of 
Cicero s correspondence was given to an admiring and regretful 
world. A renowned statesman, a matchless orator, and even 
greater, the creator of the Latin language, which became a 
universal language the Letters of Cicero set, as it were, a new 
fashion in literature. They were really the first in this special 
form of writing which at once became popular. 

The younger Pliny was a pupil of Quintilian, who was for a 
long period certainly for twenty years the most celebrated 
teacher in the capital. Quintilian is known as the earliest 
of the Ciceronians. The cult of Ciceronianism established by 


Quintilian, Pliny s tutor, was the real origin of the wonderful 
Pliny Letters. 

Pliny was one of the ablest scholars of his age. He, like 
many of his countrymen, was ambitious of posthumous fame 
he would not be forgotten. He was proud of his position 
of his forensic oratory of his statesmanship of his various 
literary efforts ; but he was too far-seeing to dream of any of 
his efforts in forensic oratory, or in the service of the State, 
or even in his various literary adventures which amused his 
leisure hours, winning him that posthumous fame which in 
common with so many other earnest pagan Romans he longed 
for. 1 

Pliny was an ardent admirer of Cicero ; but Cicero the 
statesman and the orator, he felt, moved on too high a plane 
for him to aim at emulating ; but as a writer of Latin, as a 
chronicler of his own day and time, as a word-painter of the 
society in which he moved, he might possibly reach as high a 
pitch of excellence as Cicero had reached in his day. 

To accomplish this end became the great object of Pliny s 
life. To this we owe the inimitable series of Letters by 
which the friend and minister of Trajan has lived, and will 
live on. 

In some respects the Letters of Pliny are even more valuable 
than the voluminous and many-coloured correspondence of 
Cicero. Cicero lived in a momentous age. He was one of 
the chief actors in a great revolution which materially altered 
the course of the world s history. Pliny lived in a compara 
tively " still " period, when one of the greatest of the Roman 
sovereigns was at the helm of public affairs ; so in his picture 

1 There is a striking passage, based on Pliny s reflexions, in Professor 
Dill s Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, on this longing to be re 
membered after death, so common to the Roman (pagan) mind. 

" The secret of immortality, the one chance of escaping oblivion, is to 
have your thought embalmed in choice and distinguished literary form, 
which coming ages will not willingly let die (Plin. Ep. ii. 10. 4, iii. 7. 14). . . . 
This longing to be remembered was the most ardent passion of the Roman 
mind in all ages and in all ranks ... of that immense literary ambition 
which Pliny represented, and which he considered it his duty to foster, only 
a small part has reached its goal. . . . The great mass of these eager littera 
teurs have altogether vanished, or remain to us as mere shadowy names in 
Martial, or Statius, or Pliny." Book ii. chap. i. 


we find none of the stress and storm which live along the 
pages of Cicero s correspondence. 

It is an everyday life which Pliny depicts with such skill 
and vivid imagery, the life, after all, which " finds " the 
majority of men and women. 

But it was the bright side of ancient society which Pliny 
loved to describe. Without his Letters we should have had 
no notion of the warm and tender friendships of the simple 
pleasures of the loving charities of the lofty ideals of so 
many of the elite of Roman society in the second century. 

It has been well said that Pliny felt that he lacked the 
power to write a great history, such as that which Tacitus, with 
whom he \vas closely associated, or even his younger friend 
Suetonius in an inferior degree, have given us. So he chose, 
fortunately for us, to strike out another line altogether, a 
perfectly new line, and in his ten Books l of Letters he gives 
us simply a domestic picture of everyday life in his time. 

They were no ordinary Letters ; we can without any 
great effort of imagination picture to ourselves the famous 
Letter-writer touching and retouching his correspondence. 
Some modern critics in judging his style do not hesitate to 
place his Latinity on a level with that of Cicero. Renan, 
no mean judge of style, in words we have already quoted, 
speaks of "la langue precieuse et raffinee de Pline." 

The subjects he loved to dwell on were sometimes literature, 
at others, the beauties of nature, the quiet charms of country 
life " me nihil aeque ac naturae opera delectant," he wrote 
once. He eloquently describes the Clitumnus fountain, and 
the villa overlooking the Tiber valley ; very elaborate and 
graceful are his descriptions of scenery ; yet more attractive 
to us are his pictures of the " busy idleness " of the rich and 
noble of his day. 

Curious and interesting are the allusions to and descrip- 

1 It seems most probable that the first nine Books of Pliny s Letters were 
put out in " book form " for public use at different periods and subsequently 
collected in one volume. The " official " correspondence between Pliny and 
Trajan was apparently " published " somewhat later. But it is evident 
that in the days of Symmachus (end of fourth century) the whole had been 
placed together, and thus made up the ten Books we now possess. 


tions of the reading of new works, poems, histories, corre 
spondence, etc., before large gatherings of friends. Some of 
these " readings," which evidently formed an important 
feature in the society of the Empire, must often have been 
sadly wearisome. Our writer, for instance, describes Sentius 
Augurinus reciting his own poems during three whole days. 
Pliny expresses his delight at this lengthy recitation, but he 
confesses that these constant and lengthy recitations were 
deemed by some tiresome. His own Letters were read aloud 
to an appreciative audience, who would suggest corrections 
and changes. 

Pliny was quite conscious when he wrote these famous 
Letters, that he was writing for no mere friend or relative, 
but for a wide public. He evidently hoped that they w r ould 
live long after he had passed away ; it is doubtful, though, if 
he had ever dreamed that they would be read with interest 
and delight for uncounted centuries. For instance, he naively 
expresses his delight that his writings were sold and read in 
Lyons, on the banks of the distant Rhone. 

He has been accused by some, not otherwise unkindly 
critics, of writing for effect of putting upon paper finer 
feeling than was absolutely natural to him ; some of his 
descriptions of nature, for instance, savoured of affectation. 
There may be some truth in this criticism. But it only 
proves, what we have taken some pains to assert, that this 
intensely interesting correspondence was most carefully pre 
pared revised and redacted possibly several times that he 
wrote to impress the public. Indeed, throughout the whole 
collection there are numerous marks of the most careful 

At the same time there are many natural touches in which 
his very faults are curiously manifest ; so in reading these 
letters, in spite of occasional bursts of a possible artificial 
enthusiasm, we are sensible that his inner life, his real self, 
live along his charming pages ; for instance, his curious 
conceit in his own literary power comes out in such passages 
as that in which he compares himself not unfavourably with 
his dear friend, that greatest master of history, Tacitus. There 
were other writers of great power and of brilliant genius, 


but " You," so he writes to Tacitus, " so strong was the 
affinity of our natures, seemed to me at once the easiest to 
imitate, and the most worthy of imitation. Now we are 
named together ; both of us have, I may say, some name in 
literature ; for as I include myself, I must be moderate in 
my praise of you." 

In the midst of these striking pictures of the day and of 
the society of the quiet and comparatively happy times of the 
Emperor Trajan in the last and perhaps the least interesting 
Book of his correspondence the one generally known as the 
tenth Book, which contains his semi-official Letters to the 
Emperor, and some of Trajan s replies, stands out the great 
Christian episode in his government of Bithynia and Pontus, 
by far the most valuable notice that we possess of the numbers 
and of the influence of the Christian sect in the first years of 
the second century, only a few years after the death of S. John. 

The reference in Tacitus to the cruel persecution of Nero, 
and the yet briefer notices in Suetonius, are, of course, of the 
highest value ; but the detailed story of Pliny, where he tells 
the Emperor actually what was taking place in the province 
of which he was governor, and gives us his own impressions 
of the works and days of the Christians, is and ever will be 
to the ecclesiastical historian the most precious testimony of 
a great pagan to the position which the Christians held in 
the Roman Empire some eighty years after the Resurrection 

We have already, it will be remembered, dwelt at some 
length on what was evidently in Pliny s mind on the subject 
on the impressions, after a careful and lengthy investigation, 
which this unpopular sect made upon him. He tells his 
imperial friend and master exactly what he thought ; and 
it is clear that the great Emperor was strangely moved by 
Pliny s words, and framed his famous rescript upon the report 
in question on the gentler lines we have dwelt upon above. 

The value of such a picture of very early Christian life, 
painted by an eminent pagan statesman and scholar in the 
midst of such a work, so carefully arranged, so thought out, 
prepared, as we have seen, for posterity, as the Letters of 
Pliny were, can never be too highly valued. 



HOW Pliny was admired and copied in the Roman world 
of literature we learn from the subsequent story of 
Roman literature preserved to us. 

With the exception of the writings of Suetonius, Pliny s 
friend, for a lengthened period after the reign of Trajan, an age 
splendidly illustrated by the writings of Tacitus and Pliny, 
little literature has come down to us ; very silent, indeed, 
after Trajan s age seems to have been the highly cultured 
and literary society of Rome of which Pliny writes in such 
vivid and appreciative terms. 

Thoughtful men seem to consider that in the Roman 
Empire, under Hadrian, under the noble Antonine princes 
and their successors, " the soil, the race, the language were 
alike exhausted." Be that as it may, there is no doubt that 
from the time of Trajan until the latter days of the wondrous 
story of Rome, late in the fourth century, apart from a group 
of purely Christian writers, Latin literature was practically 
extinct ; certainly it produced nothing worthy to be trans 
mitted to later ages. 

Perhaps a solitary but not a very notable exception might 
be made in the few fragments that have come down to us of 
Fronto, the tutor and dear friend of Marcus Aurelius. These 
fragments are chiefly pieces of his correspondence with his 
pupils Marcus and his shortlived colleague in the Empire, 
Lucius Verus. It is not, however, probable that these letters 
were ever intended for publication or for general reading. 
It has been said with some truth that the Emperor Marcus 
and his scholar friend and tutor wrote to each other with the 
effusiveness of two schoolgirls. 1 In one particular these 

1 Dr. Mackail, Latin Literature, iii. v. 


correspondents evidently agreed they both disliked, and tried 
to despise, the fast growing Christian community. 

Towards the close of the fourth century, how r ever, when the 
great Emperor Theodosius was fast fading away, worn out 
with cares and anxieties for the future of an empire which even 
his splendid abilities were powerless to preserve even for a 
little season, in a period which has been graphically compared 
to the " wan lingering light of a late autumnal sunset," 
arose a few, a very few distinguished writers, whose works 
posterity has judged worthy of preservation. 1 

With two of the best known of these, the pagan poet 
Claudian, whose splendid claims for posthumous fame are 
undoubted, and somewhat later the half-pagan, half-Christian 
poet Ausonius, we are not concerned in this study ; they 
were purely poets. Two other authors, however, in this late 
evening of Roman story especially interest us, as they carry 
on the tradition on which we have been dwelling, the love 
for and interest in " letters," in carefully studied " corre 
spondence," which the Letters of Cicero and Pliny made the 
fashion in the literary society of imperial Rome. 

Symmachus, in the last years of the fourth century, and 
Sidonius Apollinaris, some half century later in the fifth cen 
tury, were close imitators of Pliny. Their Letters have come 
down to us ; and the popularity which they enjoyed in their 
own time, a popularity which has endured more or less in 
all succeeding ages, tells us what a powerful and enduring 
influence the correspondence of Pliny must have exercised over 
the old world of Rome. 

Both these writers belonged to the highest class in the 
society of the dying Empire. Q. Aurelius Symmachus had 
held some of the highest offices open to the patrician order, he 
had been governor of several important provinces, prefect of 
the city, and consul ; in his later years he was regarded 
and generally treated as the chief of the Senate, for whose 
privileges he was intensely jealous at a time when the despotic 

1 The purely Christian writings, mainly theological, are not included in 
this brief summary able and brilliant as some of these undoubtedly were ; 
other causes, apart from their literary merits, have largely contributed to 
their preservation. 


rule of the Emperor had reduced the once proud assembly to 
a group of shadowy names whose principal title to honour and 
respect was the splendid tradition of a great past. 

This Symmachus, statesman and ardent politician, was a 
writer of no mean power. Like Pliny, whom in common with 
all the literary society of Rome he admired and longed to 
imitate, he determined to go down to posterity as a writer of 

These Letters of his were read and re-read in his day and 
time ; his contemporaries classed him as on a level with Cicero, 
and loved to compare him with the younger Pliny, whom 
Symmachus adopted as his model. Many copies were made 
of his correspondence ; his letters were treasured up in precious 
caskets, and after he had passed away, his son, Memmius 
Symmachus, collected them all together, dividing them, as 
Pliny s had been divided, into ten Books. Nine of them, 
like the compositions of the great writer whom he strove 
to imitate, are mainly concerned with private and domestic 
matters ; the tenth, as in the case of Pliny, being made up 
of official communications which had passed between his 
father and the reigning Emperor. 

It is somewhat dull reading this " Symmachus " corre 
spondence, but it gives us a picture of the nobler and purer 
portion of Roman society in the closing years of the fourth 
century. He was too good a scholar, too able a man, not to 
see his inferiority to Pliny ; and evidently he had his doubts 
respecting the claim of his correspondence to immortality, 
and he apologizes for their barrenness of interesting incident ; 
but his contemporaries and his devoted son thought other 
wise, and to their loyal admiration we owe the preservation 
of his carefully prepared and corrected, though somewhat 
tedious, imitation of the charming Letters of Pliny. 

Sidonius Apollinaris, who flourished a little more than 
half a century later, belonged also to the great Roman world ; 
he was born at Lyons about A.D. 430, and partly owing to the 
elevation of his father-in-law Avitus to the imperial throne, 
was rapidly preferred to several of the great offices of the 
Empire amongst these to the prefecture of Rome. His 
undoubted ability, his high character, and great position 


and fortune led to his election by popular voice to the bishopric 
of Clermont (though not in Holy orders), the episcopal city of 
his native Auvergne in Gaul. In his new and to him strange 
position there is no doubt that he fulfilled the expectation 
of the people who chose him as bishop ; and when, some fifteen 
or twenty years after his election, in the great Auvergne diocese, 
he passed away, he was deeply, even passionately, mourned by 
his flock. He had been their devoted pastor, their helper 
and defender in the troublous and anxious period of the 
Visigothic occupation of Southern Gaul. 

Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet of some power, and a 
graceful and fluent writer of panegyrics of great personages 
which in that age were much in vogue. He was also 
deeply read in the literature to which so many of the leaders 
of Roman society in the late evening of the Empire were 
ardently devoted. 

But it is from his " Correspondence " that this eminent 
representative of the patrician order in the last days of the 
Empire will ever be remembered. We possess some hundred 
and forty-seven of his letters. They were collected and revised 
by him after he became Bishop of Clermont. Their publication 
is usually dated between the years 477 and 488. The letters 
were divided according to ancient models, Pliny being the 
principal model, into nine Books. (There was no tenth Book 
of official correspondence in his case.) 

In their present form, revised and redacted by the writer 
himself, very many of the letters read as though intended for 
a public far wider than the individuals to whom the communica 
tions were originally addressed ; and it is more than probable 
that from a comparatively early period, Sidonius intended 
to follow a well-known practice, and wrote many of his letters 
with a view to their being preserved as pieces of literature. 
He even tells us he proposed to be an imitator of Symmachus, 
his predecessor in this special form of writing by some fifty 
or sixty years ; and Symmachus, we know, was an ardent 
admirer and imitator of Pliny. 

The Letters, however, of Sidonius possess a far wider interest 
for us than the correspondence of Symmachus. Symmachus 
is dull and even prosy, partly from his exaggerated attention 


to Pliny s rule which he suggested to one of his correspondents 
on the subject of letter-writing. The letter-writer, said 
Pliny, must aim at a style at once compressed and accurate 
in its form of expression (presses sermo purusque ex Epistolis 
petitur}. Sidonius, on the other hand, is diffuse and often 
picturesque, and his language is enriched or disfigured by an 
ample and often a barbarous vocabulary, drawn from the 
popular dialect into which the Latin of Cicero and Pliny 
was fast declining when the Bishop of Clermont wrote. His 
correspondents were many and various, including, it appears, 
some seventeen contemporary bishops. 

On the whole, the Letters of Sidonius give a vivid and even 
a brilliant picture of the highly cultivated life of the noble and 
upper classes of the fast fading Empire of the fifth century. 

Briefly to sum up what we have said in this second 
study of Pliny s Letters. We have dwelt on the great im 
portance of Pliny s picture of Christianity in the first years of 
the second century ; for it was 

ist. A picture painted by a great Roman (pagan) states 
man ; and 

2nd. Though it appears in a letter, the letter was one of a 
collection of Letters intended for future generations. 
Pliny here copied Cicero, who really may be said to 
have " invented " this novel and peculiar form of 
literature, i.e. letters written not merely for private 
friends and officials, but for the public, and 
intended to be handed down, if they were found 
worthy, to after ages. 

The " silence " of all Latin literature after the age of 
Pliny for some two hundred and seventy years, of course 
prevents citing any examples of such letters, written for public 
use and for posterity, during this " silent " period. 

But after this " silence," a brief renaissance of Latin litera 
ture took place. 

In this renaissance the works of only two prose writers of 
great reputation have been preserved for us. Both these were 
most distinguished men in the political world and in the world 
of literature. 


And these two chose to copy Pliny s plan of letter- 
writing, i.e., letters composed for public use and intended for 

The two were Symmachus and Sidonius Apollinaris. 

After this brief renaissance of Letters a veil of darkness 
fell over the Roman world. 



WHEN we consider how in the first century of the 
Christian era it was a frequent custom to clothe 
literature of all kinds in the letter form, and how 
popular amongst all classes and orders was this method 
so to speak of literary expression, when associated with 
it were, among a crowd of comparatively undistinguished 
authors, such personalities as Cicero, Seneca, and Pliny, 
whose letters as pieces of literature obtained at once an 
enormous popularity which has never really waned, 1 it 
becomes a grave and interesting question : Did this fashion, 
this method, this singularly popular form of writing, affect the 
great New Testament writers, and induce them to cast their 
sublime inspired thoughts in this special form, which certainly, 
when the apostles put out their writings, was a loved and 
admired literary method ? 

The fact of so large a portion of the New Testament writ 
ings being cast in " letter form " is striking ; it is quite different 
from anything that we find in the Old Testament Scriptures, 
where, save in one solitary instance (Jer. xxix.), nothing in 
the letter form appears in that wonderful compilation 
which embraces so many subjects, and which in the 
composition spread over many centuries ; but we are so 
accustomed to the New Testament writings, that the fact of a 
very large portion of the collection of its inspired writings 
being in " letter " form does not at first appear strange or 

We may preface the few suggestions which follow with the 

1 We might also cite here the well-known " poetic " epistles of Ovid and 

6 9 


remark, that whether or no the suggestion be entertained as a 
possible, even as a probable thought, the fact of " inspiration " 
the fact of the New Testament writings referred to being 
" the word of God " is not in the slightest degree affected. 
For it is the substance of the divine message, not the " colour " 
or " material " of the clothing of the message, which is of 
such paramount importance. 

The question of the " colour " and " material " of the 
message s clothing, the consideration in what it is clothed, is 
deeply interesting ; but, after all, is nothing more. 

The " message " which we believe to be from God remains 
the same be it enclosed in a " pamphlet," in a " treatise," 
in a " study " (elude), or in a " letter " form. 

Nothing like an analysis of the New Testament Epistles, 
some of which will be briefly referred to in the course of this 
study, will be attempted. Such an analysis would not, of 
course, enter into the scheme of the present work. 

We would first indicate some at least of the New Testament 
Letters which certainly seem to be more than letters in the 
ordinary sense of the word which, indeed, are " settings " to 
short theological treatises containing statements of the highest 
doctrinal import. 

These " Letters " were evidently intended for a far more 
extended circle of readers than the congregations immediately 

We have already in a previous section quoted the three 
Epistles of S. Paul written during his first imprisonment, 1 
A.D. 61-3 (viz. the Epistles to the Colossians, Philippians, and 
Ephesians), as embodying some of the more weighty and im 
portant doctrinal teachings of the great apostle put out during 
the period in which S. Paul preached to the Christians of 
the capital, and thus and then earned his well-known and 
acknowledged claim to be one of the two " founders " of the 
Church of Rome S. Peter being the other. 

One of the reasons, no doubt, of the vast and long-enduring 

1 The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and to the Galatians are not quoted, 
but they are conspicuous examples of great doctrinal teaching embodied in 
the letter form. In a lesser degree the same remark is applicable to the two 
Letters to the Thessalonians and the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 


popularity of the " letter " form of literature was the intro 
duction of quasi-confidential remarks, which gave a freshness, 
a breath of everyday life to the composition ; or, to use another 
image, the " Letter " might even be termed a picturesque 
and attractive " setting " to the graver, the more serious 
thoughts contained in the writing. 

This is well exemplified in the famous collection of the 
correspondence of Cicero, of whose Letters it has been 
happily written that the majority are " brief confidential 
outpourings of the moment." The same purely human 
colouring is manifest in the Letters of Seneca, written from 
the year 57 and onwards ; this is even more especially 
noticeable in the Letters of the younger Pliny. 

There are, however, certain of the Pauline Epistles which 
partake more closely of the nature of private letters, and which 
scarcely seem intended for public circulation notably the 
Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the little letter to 

Professor Deissmann, of Heidelberg, who has written at 
some length on the subject, differs somewhat from the general 
view taken here of S. Paul s writings ; but while expressing his 
doubts as to whether any of the Pauline Epistles were really 
written by the apostle with a view to publication, he unhesi 
tatingly decides that amongst the New Testament writings 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, the First Epistle of John, the 
First Epistle of Peter, the Epistles of James and Jude, were 
most certainly written in " letter " form for general circulation. 

As early certainly as the third century, the Christian 
Church placed the so-called Catholic Epistles as a group apart 
among the canonical writings and termed them " Catholic " 
or universal, as addressed to no one special congregation. 
This is absolutely true in the cases of the Epistles of i Peter, 
James, Jude, and i John, above referred to. 

The First Epistle of Peter is addressed to a vast number 
of the " Dispersion," who, the apostle says, were sojourning in 
the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, 
these provinces almost covering the region now popularly 
known as Asia Minor. 

James wrote to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. 


John in his First Epistle gives no address at all, leaving 
his Letter perfectly general or universal. 

Jude, too, names no particular congregation, but simply 
writes to those that are* " sanctified by God the Father, and 
preserved in Jesus Christ and called." 

In the Epistle "to the Hebrews" the writer is unnamed, 
and there is no mention of those to whom the anonymous 
" Letter " is addressed. It is, however, clear from the tenor 
of the " Letter " that it was addressed to Jewish Christians, 
and probably to Jewish Christians settled in Rome. 

The " Pastoral " Epistles, so called (including i and 2 
Timothy and Titus), were evidently intended for general 

We may therefore conclude that the greater number 
of the New Testament Letters certainly the four principal 
" Catholic " Epistles and the great Epistle to the Hebrews, 
and the Epistles of S. Paul with the exceptions above noted, 
influenced by the analogy of other collections of Letters made 
in the same age, were written in " letter " form, but were 
intended for a large group of readers. This particular " letter " 
form being adopted owing to the great popularity, throughout 
the Roman Empire, of this special description of literature. 

Thus it is evident that the great Christian teachers to a 
certain extent adopted the most loved popular literary forms 
of the age in which they lived, especially choosing the letter 
form which such distinguished writers as Cicero, Seneca, and a 
little later the younger Pliny adopted. 

While the " Acts of the Apostles " more or less followed 
the literary method of profane historical literature, with its 
picturesque insertion of " speeches," " letters," and " official 
papers"; while the "Revelation of S. John" more or less 
followed the method adopted in Jewish apocalyptic literature 
of the famous Alexandrian school : alone the Gospels are abso 
lutely an original form a literary form which originated within 
Christianity itself a literary form which stands out alone. It 
imitated nothing, it followed no classical or Jewish examples 
no models, however beautiful, attractive, or popular ; nor has 
it ever been imitated in all the Christian ages, stretching over 
more than eighteen centuries, simply because it is inimitable. 



And when the Catholic Church judged, and as we see now 
wisely judged, that the Voice of Inspiration was hushed, we 
find that the literary remains of the primitive age of Christi 
anity which have been preserved to us are cast in the same 
"letter" form, those few literary remains which have 
received the lofty title of " Apostolic." The word comes to 
us from Ignatius, and seems to bear the meaning that the 
writers of these " remains " were historically connected with 
the apostles. 

These writings properly so styled come from four persons 
from (i) Clement (of Rome), of whom the tradition, constant 
and definite, tells us he was the disciple of Peter and also of 

(2) From Ignatius, whose early date and connexion with 
Antioch, a chief centre of apostolic work, render, as Light- 
foot well urges, his personal intercourse with apostles at least 
probable. The earliest tradition represents Ignatius as the 
second of the Antiochene bishops. His martyrdom must 
be dated circa A.D. no. He was evidently then an old 
man. He was certainly a younger contemporary of some 
of the apostles. 

(3) From Polycarp, whose close connexion in youth with 
S. John is indisputable, since his own disciple, the well- 
known Irenaeus, tells us that Polycarp was a scholar of the 
beloved disciple ; and that he (Irenaeus) had heard from his 
master, Polycarp, many anecdotes of the apostles, which he 
had treasured up in his memory. 

(4) From Barnabas, whose immediate connexion with the 
apostle is less certain ; but the early date of his Epistle, 
written apparently during the days of the Flavian dynasty, 
would render the ancient traditions of this connexion at least 
highly probable. 

These writings, few and humble, which have come down to 
us, are all we can with any certainty ascribe to " Apostolic " 
men; and they are all cast in " letter- form," viz., the one 
somewhat lengthy Epistle of Clement, the seven authentic 
Epistles of Ignatius, the one brief Epistle of Polycarp, the 


one (of considerable length) Epistle of Barnabas. These 
Epistles are genuine "Letters," and "represent the natural 
outpouring of personal feeling arising out of personal re 
lations " ; but they contain doctrinal statements of the deepest 
importance, notably emphatic or positive statements bearing 
on the Godhead of Jesus Christ. 1 

These Epistles 2 were obviously meant by the writers for a 
far more extended circle of readers than the congregations of 
Corinth, Philippi, Rome, etc., to whom the Letters were 
formally addressed. 

1 The words which occur in " the address " of the Letters of Ignatius to 
the Christian congregation in the city of Tralles are remarkable. " The holy 
Church which is in Tralles of Asia I salute . . . after the manner of the 
apostle (ev diro<rroXiAr x-P aKT W 1 ) " This Bishop Lightfoot explains as a 
reference of Ignatius to the Epistolary form of his communication, that being 
a usual form adopted by the apostles. 

2 Hennas, whose writings are usually classed with the works of the 
" Apostolic Fathers," does not fall into this category. 

(a) There is some doubt as to whether Hennas can be rightly considered 
an "Apostolic Father." 

(b) His writings are not cast in the Epistolary form, but are purely 
theological treatises or pamphlets. 

They are partially examined below (see pp. 178-84) with reference to 
their date, authorship, and contents generally. 


HADRIAN, A.D. U7-A.D. 138 

SOME four years after his correspondence with Pliny on 
the subject of the Christians in Bithynia, the Emperor 
Trajan died somewhat suddenly in the course of his 
Eastern campaign, at the Cilician, town of Selinus (A.D. 117). 

Trajan was succeeded by his kinsman Hadrian, who had 
married the Emperor s great-niece Julia Sabina. The circum 
stances of Hadrian s succession are somewhat confused. It 
was given out generally that he had been adopted by Trajan 
as his successor. It is certain, however, that his pretensions 
to the imperial power were favoured by Trajan s Empress, 
Plotina, and some even ascribe his succession largely to a 
palace intrigue ; it is clear that no real opposition to his 
peaceable assumption of the imperial power was offered. 

It is regrettable that we possess no notable contemporary 
history of one of the most remarkable of the Roman Emperors. 
How intensely interesting would have been a picture by 
Tacitus of so extraordinary and unique a personality ! 

What we know of Hadrian and his reign of twenty-one 
years we gather principally from the pages of Spartianus, one 
of the six writers of the Augustan history who lived in the 
days of Diocletian, more than a century and a half later, and 
from some brief notices of Dion Cassius, of the Emperor 
Julian, and of three or four other writers who have given us 
short sketches of his life, and also from a somewhat longer 
account of the eleventh century monk Xiphilinus, and from 
notices on medals and inscriptions. 

The Emperor Hadrian was no ordinary man. Rarely 


gifted with various and varied talents, he delighted to appear 
before the Roman world as a soldier and a statesman, as an 
artist and a poet ; and in each of them, certainly in the first 
two characters, he occupied a fairly distinguished position. 
To the world he has gone down as a great traveller. He was 
not content with sitting at the helm of his Empire in Rome, or 
in one of his magnificent villas in Italy ; he would see each of 
his many provinces and their chief cities with his own eyes, 
and then judge what was best for them, how he could best 
improve their condition and develop their resources. 

During his reign there were few, indeed, of the chief 
cities of the Roman world which he had not visited, few 
which did not receive in some fashion or other the stamp 
of his presence among them. He was accompanied usually 
with a vast trained staff, as we should term it, of experts in 
arts and crafts, of painters, sculptors, architects, and skilled 

He had, of course, immense resources at his command, 
for he was a great financier, and was able with little effort to 
draw vast sums for the magnificent works he carried on in all 
parts of the Empire. The world had never seen, will probably 
never see again, a great building sovereign like Hadrian ; and 
though he restored, decorated, rebuilt baths, amphitheatres, 
stately municipal buildings, and in many instances whole 
cities, often named after himself, 1 he never seems to have 
neglected Rome ; for the traces of his expensive works there 
are still to be seen, while he watched over and lavishly kept 
up the costly amusements so dear to the luxurious and pleasure- 
loving capital. In one day, for instance, we read of a hundred 
lions being slain in the arena of the great Roman theatre, 
while his doles to the people were ever on a lavish scale. Rome 
was never allowed to suffer for the absence or for the immense 
foreign expenditure of the imperial traveller. 

But Hadrian was not a good man, though he was a mag 
nificent sovereign. His life was made up of the strangest 

1 Seventeen of these cities so named are commemorated on extant coins 
and medals ; and this number is largely increased by some writers. These 
cities of Hadrian bearing his name were situated in various districts of the 
Roman world, notably in Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, Syria, Pannonia. 


contradictions. At times he played the part almost of an 
ascetic, abstaining from wine in his repasts, and even sub 
mitting to the work and fatigues of an ordinary legionary 
soldier. At times his life was disfigured by the grossest 
excesses and debauchery. 1 His attitude towards Christianity 
especially concerns us. He had no religion, no faith. He was 
interested in all cults to a certain extent, was even initiated 
into the mysteries of some of the old pagan beliefs ; and while 
he accepted nothing, he denied nothing. 

His famous rescript to Serenus Granianus, now generally 
accepted as genuine, gives us some conception of his estimate 
of Christianity, at least in the earlier portion of his reign. It 
virtually endorses what Trajan had written to Pliny in the 
matter of the Bithynian Christians. They were not to be 
hunted out, but if legally convicted as Christians they were 
to surfer. Hadrian, certainly in his earlier years, even went 
further in the direction of toleration than his predecessor. 
An informer, unless he could prove the truth of his accusation, 
would be subject to the severest penalties of the law. 

But Hadrian, like Trajan who reigned before him, and 
Antoninus Pius who succeeded him on the imperial throne, 
knew very little of Christianity. It is more than doubtful if 
he had ever seen a Gospel ; and although his sense of justice 
and his perfect indifference to all religions dictated the terms 
and inspired the tone of the famous rescript in question, 
in common with all Roman statesmen he evidently disliked 
and even feared the strange faith which was gradually gaining 
ground so rapidly in the world of Rome. 

This dislike of Christianity, which some historians char 
acterize in Hadrian s case as positively hatred of the faith, was 
shown markedly in the latter years of his life by the deliberate 
insults which he offered to the most sacred Christian memories 
in Jerusalem after the close of the terrible Jewish war in A.D. 
135. Some modern writers have pleaded that no special 
profanation was intended by Hadrian when the building of 
lia Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem was proceeded with 

1 De Champagny, Les Antonins, iii. I, tersely and well sums up his character: 
" II a tous les dons, et toutes les faiblesses, toutes les grandeurs, et toutes les 
puerilitees, toutes les ambitions." 


after the Jewish war ; but the testimony of Christian writers l 
here is very positive. An image of Jupiter was placed on the 
Mount of the Ascension ; a statue of Venus was adored on the 
hill of Golgotha ; Bethlehem was dedicated to Adonis, and a 
sacred grove was planted there ; and the impure Phoenician 
rites were actually celebrated in the grotto of the Nativity. 

But for the historian of the first days of Christianity, by 
far the most important event in this brilliant reign of Hadrian 
was the fatal Jewish war of A.D. 133-5 an d its striking results. 
This was the war of extermination, as the Talmud subsequently 
termed it ; the war in which the false Messiah Bar-cochab and 
the famous Rabbi Akiba were the most prominent figures. 
The outcome of this terrible war was the absolute destruction 
of the nationality of the Jewish people. From henceforth, i.e. 
after A.D. 134-5, the whole spirit of the Jews was changed ; they 
lived from this time with new ideals, with new and different 
hopes and aims. This wonderful change we have described at 
some length and with many details in Book V. of this work. 

From this time forward, there is no doubt that the concep 
tion which Roman statesmen had formed of Christianity under 
went a marked change. Hitherto, more or less, the Christian 
was regarded as a Jewish dissenter, and was viewed at Rome 
with dislike, but at the same time with a certain contemptuous 
toleration provided that he kept out of sight. Trajan evidently, 
from the Pliny correspondence, was averse to harsh persecution 
if it could be avoided ; and Hadrian, certainly in his earlier 
years, followed the policy of Trajan. But after A.D. 135 all 
this was changed. The Jewish people after the termination 
of the last bitter war passed into stillness. 

They now rigidly abstained from admitting any stranger 
Gentiles into the charmed circle of Judaism, sternly forbidding 
any proselytizing. They abandoned all earthly ambition 
their hope and expectation of seeing their land independent 
and powerful was relegated to a dim and distant future. 
They believed that they were the chosen people in far back days 

1 Cf. Jerome, Ep. 58, Ad Paulin, 3 ; Euseb. Devita Constant, iii. 26; Sozo- 
men, i. I ; St. Paulin, Ep. 31 (ii.) ad Severum ; Rufin. H. E. i. 8 ; Sulp. Severus, 
ii. 25, 45 ; Ambrose, Psalm 43 ; and in modern historians, cf. De Vogue s 
Eglises de la terre sainte, iii. ; De Champagny, Les Antonins, livre iii. c. iii. 


of the Eternal of Hosts they would quietly wait His good 
pleasure, and by a rigid observance in all its minutest details 
of the divine law, which they made the sole object of their 
study and meditation, would merit once more His favour ; 
they hoped and expected at some distant day again to rejoice 
in the light of His countenance, a light, alas ! long since 
veiled owing to their past disobedience ; to the Christian and 
his teaching in the meantime they vowed an implacable hatred. 

It then began (after A.D. 134-5), slowly at first, to dawn 
upon the statesmen of Rome that the Christian was no mere 
Jewish dissenter, but a member of a new and perfectly distinct 
community, a sect intensely in earnest, successful in making 
proselytes, possessing, too, a secret power which the Roman 
statesman marvelled at but was incapable of understanding, 
a secret power which made the Christian absolutely fearless 
of death and utterly regardless of any punishment human 
ingenuity could devise ; a sect, too, which, quite independent 
of the Jews, daily was multiplying, and was rapidly numbering 
in its ranks men and women of every calling, drawn, too, from 
every province indifferently in the wide Roman empire, 
becoming, indeed, an Empire within an Empire. 

But the subjects of this inner Empire, while loyal to the 
State, obedient, and peaceful, dwelt as it were as a nation 
apart, professing an allegiance to an invisible Power unknown 
to the ancient traditions of Rome, and irreconcilably hostile 
to the ancient religion on which the true Roman loved to 
believe the grandeur of the Empire was based. 

The consciousness of all this may be said to have really 
dawned upon Roman statesmen only after the great change 
which passed over Judaism at the close of the awful war of 
Hadrian, a change which showed for the first time the broad 
gulf which yawned between the Jewish people and the new 
Christian community. 

The last two years of Hadrian s reign, which immediately 
followed the close of the great Jewish war, were marked by 
the adoption of a new and severer policy by the State in regard 
to Christians. We hear of cases of extreme harshness in the 
case of the treatment of Christians by the State. Many stories 
of martyrdom date from this period. This stern policy was 


pursued through the reign of the blameless Antoninus Pius, 
and became yet more pronounced and severe in the years of 
his successor, the yet nobler and purely patriotic Marcus, 
under whose rule, beneficent and just though it generally 
was, the Christians suffered as they had never suffered before. 

For the first time after the close of the great Jewish war, 
A.D. I33-A.D. 135, the imperial government recognised what 
a grave danger to the Roman polity, to its ancient religion 
and its beliefs, was Christianity. 

For more than sixty years that is, from the day that 
Nero charged the then comparatively little band of Roman 
Christians with being the authors of the great fire which re 
duced so large a portion of Rome to ashes had the sword of 
persecution hung over the Christian communities. From 
that day, the follower of Jesus was an outlaw in the great 
Empire. His home, his life, were exposed to a perpetual 
danger ; ever and anon a period of bitter persecution set in, 
and lives were sacrificed and homes were wrecked to gratify 
some wild and senseless popular clamour, or even as the 
result of some private and often malicious information. There 
was no security any more for a member of the proscribed sect. 

It is true that a great and wise Emperor like Trajan re 
luctantly allowed the law as it stood to be carried out, but 
he made no effort to change it or to mitigate its stern penalties. 
Hadrian, certainly in his early and middle life, was like his 
predecessor generally averse to harrying the quiet sect, and 
his well-known rescript even threatened the severest penalties 
to the false informer who denounced a Christian ; but in spite 
of these just efforts the Christian lived in a state of perpetual 
unrest, a martyr s death was ever before the eyes of one who 
elected to be a follower of Jesus. This position of the Chris 
tians in the Roman Empire continued from A.D. 64-5 until the 
later days of Hadrian, A.D. 135-8. 

But after the close of the great Jewish war, A.D. 135, as we 
have said, things grew even graver for the Christians. They 
now stood] out conspicuous as an irreconcilable sect, quite 
differ ent^from the Jews, who after the great war had quietly 
submitted to Roman law and order 



IN the last years of Hadrian and during the reigns of Pius and 
Marcus must be dated not a few of the accounts of early 
martyrs. The " Acts " which contain these recitals, it is 
true, are for the most part of doubtful authority. 1 They contain 
details which are clearly not historical, and critical investiga 
tion generally pronounces them untrustworthy. But the 
studies of later years, especially in the lore of the catacombs, 
show us that even for the more improbable and precarious 
records, evidently edited and enlarged at a date considerably 
later than the events which they purport to chronicle, there 
is evidently a basis of truth ; and it is clear that the men 
and women whose sufferings and brave deaths for the faith 
are told in the " Acts," for the most part were historical 

But we possess a much more dependable foundation for 
our statement that the last years of Hadrian and the prolonged 
reigns of Hadrian s two successors, Antoninus Pius and Marcus 
Antoninus, were periods of bitter persecution for the Christian 
sect in Rome and in the provinces ; that the years which elapsed 
between A.D. 135 and A.D. 180 were years of a persecution 
graver and more sustained than anything endured previously 
by the followers of Jesus. 

There has come down to us a group of contemporary 
Christian writings, 2 the authenticity of which no critic friendly 

1 A certain number of them, however, are by all responsible critics received 
as absolutely genuine, such as : The Letters relating the Martyrdom of 
Polycarp ; the recital of the sufferings and death of the martyrs of Lyons ; 
the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs ; and a few years later the passion of S. Per- 
petua and of her companions in suffering. 

2 Extracts from them are given on pp. 177-191. 

6 8l 


or hostile ventures to impugn. It is from these writings that 
we obtain our knowledge of what was the condition of the 
Christians in the Empire. 

There is no question but that doubtful " Acts of Martyr 
dom/ many of which purport to belong to this period, i.e., from 
the last years of Hadrian to the death of Marcus Antoninus, 
have given colour to the theory which has found favour with 
certain writers, some even of the first rank, that, after all, the 
number of martyrs was but small. Recent study has, how 
ever, completely set aside this theory. In the first place, the 
scientific investigation of the Roman catacombs has shown 
that in many cases the heroes and heroines of the doubtful 
" Acts " were real historical persons ; and, secondly, a careful 
study of the fragments of contemporary writers above referred 
to, has given us an exact and accurate picture of the period in 
question, 1 and the largest estimate of the number of sufferers 
during this period which has been made is probably too small. 

Most melancholy was the close of the brilliant life of the 
great Emperor. Shortly after the close of the Jewish war, 
Hadrian returned to Italy and settled in the magnificent 
and fantastic palace he amused himself by building in the 
neighbourhood of Rome at Tibur. The vast group of buildings 
and parks and gardens of the so-called Villa of Hadrian was 
a copy of the more famous temples, baths, and villas he had 
visited during his long travels. Egypt, Greece, Italy, sup 
plied him with models. But the seeds of a fatal malady were 
already sapping his strength. He was a sufferer from dropsy 
in its worst form ; his life, too, had long been enfeebled by bis 
wild excesses, to which ever and again he had given way. Then 
the strange mental sickness, the fatal heritage of so many 
absolute sovereigns, came over him. Nothing pleased him ; 
no ray of hope lightened his ailing, suffering life ; the present 
and the future were both dark. 

1 No scholar is more definite here than Renan, who certainly cannot be 
regarded as one who would be likely to dwell with emphasis on testimony 
which makes for the ardent faith of the Christians of the first days. And 
yet this great scholar brushes aside all the theories which maintain that the 
Christian martyrs of this period were few and insignificant in number; no 
modern writer is more positive on the awful character of the persecutions 
between A.D. 135 and A.D. 180. 


His government became cruel, arbitrary, tyrannical. Many 
executions, not a few of them striking the highest in rank and 
authority, disfigured the closing years of the Emperor. The 
Christian sect, which lately, as we have explained already, 
had become in a specific manner feared and dreaded by the 
State, largely suffered during these sad closing years of his 
reign, and the dread persecution to which it was subjected 
during the reigns of his successors began in good earnest. 

One dominant thought seems to have haunted Hadrian 
the longing for death. Those who were nearest to his person, 
under the influence of the wise prince his adopted successor, 
generally known as Antoninus Pius, restrained him on several 
occasions from laying violent hands on himself ; but it was 
no avail, and Hadrian died at Baiae, A.D. 138, the death no 
doubt hastened, if not absolutely caused, by his own act. 

The following little table will explain the succession of the 
Antonines to the Empire : 

Hadrian first adopted -^Elius Verus a patrician, but a voluptuous 
and carelessly living man ; he died, however, in the lifetime 
of Hadrian, leaving a son Verus, afterwards associated in the 
Empire with Marcus, whom, however, he predeceased by 
many years. 

Hadrian subsequently adopted as his successor Aurelius Antoninus, 
known in history as Antoninus Pius. 

Antoninus Pius belonging to a Gallic family of Nimes, had filled 
the highest offices in the State, and later became a trusted 
counsellor of the Emperor Hadrian, and his devoted friend. 
He was a patrician of the highest character. When Hadrian 
adopted him he required him to secure the imperial succession 
by adopting Verus the son of ^Elius Verus, whom he had 
originally adopted but who had died, and also Marcus 
Aurelius Antoninus, his young kinsman, a nephew of his 
(Hadrian s) wife. 

Antoninus Pius became Emperor in A.D. 138. Marcus Aurelius 
Antoninus succeeded him in A.D. 161. 



A FTER the death of Hadrian, in A.D. 138, for forty-two 
JT\ years the Empire of Rome was ruled by two sovereigns 
who, pagan though they were, live in the pages of 
historians of all lands as the most perfect of any known 
sovereign rulers. They are known as the two Antonines : 
the first is distinguished by the title given him by his con 
temporaries, " Pius " ; the second, by the best known of his 
several names, " Marcus Aurelius." 

They were not conquerors, not even great legislators ; 
although under their beneficent, and with one sad exception 
generally wise rule, the laws of the State, in the case especially 
of the downtrodden and helpless, were materially improved 
and supplemented. 

Our contemporary pagan literature here,alas ! is but scanty; 
what has come down to us is even more unsatisfactory than 
what we possess in the contemporary records of Hadrian. 

No great writer in prose or poetry arose in these forty-two 
years ; and when in the fifth and following centuries, the era of 
confusion and universal decay, manuscripts began to be only 
sparingly copied, the records of this period were neglected, 
and what attention to literature was given, the copyists of 
the MSS. devoted to the masterpieces of the Augustan and 
even of an earlier age, such as the famous prose works of 
Cicero and Tacitus, of Pliny and of Suetonius ; of poets such 
as Lucretius, Vergil and Ovid, Propertius, Juvenal and Horace. 

We possess only abbreviations of the Chronicles of the 
Antonines, somewhat dry and uninteresting, wanting in 
details and in picturesque illustration. It is true that no 

great war no striking conquest no terrible intestine dis- 

s 4 


turbances disfigured these happier reigns, or supplied material 
which would arrest the attention of the writer and reader. 
It is mainly from side sources that we learn enough of the 
character and government of the Antonines to justify the 
unfeigned admiration which in all times has been given to 
these two good and great princes. 

The title " Pius," which was bestowed on the elder 
Antoninus by the Senate at the beginning of his reign, and 
by which he is universally known, was well deserved. His 
unfeigned devotion to the ancient Roman religion, his reputa 
tion for justice and wisdom, for clemency and sobriety, his 
stern morality, the high example he ever set in his private 
and public life were admirably expressed in this title. His 
great predecessors Emperors such as Vespasian and Titus, 
Trajan and Hadrian, possessed each of them some of these 
distinguishing characteristics, but only some ; the lives 
of these famous Emperors being all more or less disfigured 
by regrettable flaws. 

But the title " Pius " in the first instance seems to have 
been given to the first Antonine owing to the universal admira 
tion of his generous and devoted behaviour to his adopted 
father and predecessor Hadrian, whom he tenderly watched 
over during his last sad years of ever increasing sickness and 
terrible life-weariness, and whose memory he protected with 
a rare and singular chivalry, if we may venture to use a beauti 
ful and significant word which belongs to a later period in the 
world s history. 

The sources, whence we derive our too scanty knowledge 
of this almost flawless life, besides the notices and details 
preserved in the abbreviations of the contemporary chronicles 
we have spoken of, comprise the, comparatively recently 
recovered letters of Fronto, a famous philosopher and man 
of letters to whom Antoninus Pius entrusted the principal 
share in the training of his adopted son and successor known 
in history as the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and more especi 
ally the noble and touching estimate of his works and days 
contained in the singular and exquisite little book written 
by his adopted son Marcus, generally known as his " Medita 


We find the following striking words relating to Pius 
written by Marcus in this little book after the great Emperor, 
who had trained him so well for his high destiny, had passed 
away. It was in the form of a soliloquy with himself with 
his own soul : 

" Life is short ; the only fruit of the earth-life is to do 
good to the men among whom our lot is cast. Ever act as 
a true pupil of Antoninus (Pius). Call to mind his invariable 
fixity of purpose in carrying out what was reasonable ; remem 
ber how calm was his conduct under all circumstances ; think 
of his piety ; remember that serene expression of his ; his 
invariable sweetness his contempt for vainglory ; his con 
stant care in sifting the truth ; his indifference to unjust 
reproaches . . . never suspicious ; utterly careless of his 
own personal comfort ; paying little heed to his food or his 
clothes ; indefatigable in work ; ever patient and self-deny 
ing. . . . Think (O my soul) of all this, so that when your 
own hour for departure strikes, it may find you, as it found 
him, conscious that the life-work had been well done/ 

Antoninus Pius had inherited a great fortune ; and at the 
time of his adoption by Hadrian he was well on in middle 
life, and had filled with dignity and honour many of the high 
offices of State. When he succeeded to supreme power as the 
absolute and irresponsible sovereign of the greatest Empire 
ever under the sceptre of one man ; after carefully discharging 
the many duties of his great position in his magnificent palace 
overlooking the Roman Forum, its splendid temples and its 
yet more splendid memories, he loved to retire for a brief 
season to his ancestral home and farm of Lorium in 

Antoninus Pius delighted in exchanging the imperial state 
and wearisome pomp of his Roman court, the artificial pleasures 
of the theatre and the circus, which gave him no real satis 
faction, for the true and healthy joys of the woods and the 
fields. He enjoyed the harvest and the vintage festivals 
of the people. He loved the excitement of the chase ; he 
was at once a devoted fisherman and a hunter, though for 
these things he never neglected the graver duties and the 
awful responsibilities of his great position. The Pronto 


letters give us a beautiful picture of his family life at his 
Lorium farm. 

But the great and good Emperor had a deeper and more 
far-reaching object at heart than simple self -gratification 
when he cast off the trammels of State and forsook the gay 
and brilliant court of the great capital for the plain unostenta 
tious life of a country gentleman of the old Roman school. 

The first Antonine was conscious that the soft, luxurious 
city life of which Rome was the great example, and which 
was too faithfully copied in the wealthy provincial centres, 
was enfeebling the Empire, the builders and makers of Rome 
he well knew were the hardy race of men who feared the 
old gods and who were ready to fight and die for their country, 
and these men were the peasant-farmers produced by the 
old rural life of Italy. He would set the fashion himself, and 
if possible popularize this better and nobler way of living. 
He would bring back the memories of those great ones who 
had been the makers of that mighty empire. 

It was no mere love of antiquity, no special taste for 
antiquarian lore, which induced Antoninus Pius to grave 
upon his coins the immemorial symbols telling of the ancient 
traditions belonging to the great past of Rome, symbols 
many of which have been immortalized in the " haunting 
and liquid " rhythms of the poet loved in Rome, ^Eneas 
carrying his father ; the white sow sacrificed to Juno by the 
fugitive ^Eneas on the banks of Tiber ; Mars and Rhea Sylvia ; 
the sacred wild fig-tree beneath whose branches the wolf 
found the children Romulus and Remus ; the wolf suckling 
the baby founders of the Queen City ; the augur Naevius and 
his razor before King Tarquinius Priscus ; Horatius who 
defended the bridge against the hosts of Porsenna. It was 
not the instinct of a curious and scholarly archaeologist, but 
a deep and far-reaching purpose, which prompted Antoninus 
Pius to search out and rebuild the little unknown Arcadian 
village of Pallanteum, the ancient home of Evander, the host 
of ^Eneas, Evander, the founder of the earliest Rome, whose 
beautiful story is told in the noble epic of Vergil. 1 The Em 
peror would popularize, would bring before his people the 

1 JEneid, Book viii. 


glorious memories of the storied past the wonderful story 
of Rome its cherished traditions which told of the old love 
of the Immortals for Rome. 

Antoninus Pius was by no means the first who felt that the 
greatness of Rome had been built up by that hardy race of men 
who had lived the simple homely life of rural toil, by men who 
feared the gods and believed in the rewards and punishments 
of the Immortals. The great statesman Emperor Augustus 
more than a century earlier had recognised this, and his 
poet Vergil had pressed home this truth in his deathless 

In the Eclogues, and still more in the Georgics, men were 
led to reverence the old simple manners and customs ; and 
in the charmed verses of the yEneid the same teaching was 
enforced with yet greater eloquence and earnestness. Work 
and pray " was the conclusion of the Georgics (in primis 
venerare deos), was the burthen of the poet s solemn 

And it was not only Augustus and his loved poet Vergil 
who had felt the power of the ancient Roman religion, so sadly 
ignored if not despised in their day and time, and who had seen 
that a return to the old Roman way of living and to the primi 
tive simple beliefs and the old austere life alone would help to 
purify the corrupt and dissolute manners which were weakening, 
perhaps destroying, the old Roman spirit. Tacitus, the greatest 
historian Rome had ever given birth to, had also expressed the 
same beautiful thought. Juvenal the poet -satirist, too, who 
had lashed with an unsparing pen the luxury, the vices, and the 
follies of his age, painted as his ideal Roman a Curius, thrice 
consul, who, despising all state and pomp and luxury, hungry 
and tired after a day in the fields, preferred " a meal of herbs 
and bacon served on homely earthenware." 

Juvenal had a true Roman reverence for the old heroes of 
the Republic, for the Curii, the Fabii, and the Scipios, and their 
unostentatious way of living. Even Martial felt a strange 
charm in the antique simplicity of the old republican statesmen 
and soldiers. 

The younger Pliny, courtier, statesman, and polished 
writer, weary and sated with the brilliant luxurious life of a 


great noble in the earlier years of the second century, in his 
wonderful picture of social life in the times of Trajan, shows 
us how intensely sensible he and his circle were of the purer 
pleasures and rest to be found in " the stillness of the pine 
woods, and the cold breeze from the Apennines which blew over 
his quiet rural home in Tuscany." 

But while Augustus and his famous poets had striven to 
lead the citizens of the great empire to love and lead the more 
austere and purer life of the primitive Roman people, it was an 
open secret that the imperial teacher himself failed to lead the 
life he professed to love, for Augustus stained his own works 
and days with grave moral irregularities. The two Antonines, 
on the other hand, different from Augustus, set themselves as 
the noblest examples of a pure austere life ; no moral stain or 
flaw was ever suffered to disfigure the life-work of these two 
patriotic pagan sovereigns. 

There was one master-thought deep buried in the heart 
of Antoninus Pius and of his adopted son and successor 
Marcus Antoninus. Their whole career was influenced by an 
intense love of Rome. They would preserve the mighty Empire 
from the decay which they perceived was fast gaining ground ; 
they would set, by their own example, the vogue of the purer, 
simpler religious life on which the foundation stories of the 
Empire had been so securely laid ; hence the bitter persecution 
of the Christian sect which was so striking and painful a feature 
in the Antonine administration of the Empire, a persecution 
evidently active and bitter in the reign of Pius, but which 
greatly increased in intensity and virulence under the rule of 
his successor Marcus. 

The Antonines were intensely persuaded that all that was 
great and glorious in the Roman Empire came from the simple 
and even austere life led by their fathers under the protection 
of the mighty Immortals of Jupiter of the Capitol, of Mars 
the Avenger, of Vesta with her sacred fire, of the great Twin 
Brethren of the gods whose temples with their golden roofs 
were the stately ornaments of the Forum on which the Emperors 
ooked down from their proud home on the Palatine Hill. 


These were the deities which the great pagan Emperor believed 
" had cradled the Roman State and still watched over her 
career." It was this belief which induced Pius to grave 
on his coins the sacred memories of the earliest days of this 
divine protection on which we have been dwelling. 



AMONG the subjects of the Empire only one group stood 
persistently aloof from the crowds of worshippers who 
again thronged these time-honoured shrines ; this group 
refused to share in the ancient Roman cult which the Antonines 
had once more made the vogue in Rome and in her provinces, 
a cult to which these great pagan Emperors ever referred the 
glories of the past, and on which they grounded their hopes of 
a yet more splendid future for Rome. 

The solitary group was indeed a strange one. To a Roman 
like Antoninus Pius it appeared to be composed of a sect, 
comparatively speaking, of yesterday ; for when his predecessor 
Augustus reigned and Vergil wrote, it had no existence. It 
was a sect professing, as it seemed to the Emperor, a new 
religion a religion which claimed for the One it worshipped a 
solitary supremacy a religion which regarded the awful gods 
of Rome as shadows, as mere phantoms of the imagination. 
Well might sovereigns like the Antonines shudder at a teaching 
which would appear to a true patriot Roman, whose heart was 
all aflame with national pride, to involve the most daring 
impiety, the most shocking blasphemy ; which would threaten 
a tremendous risk for the future of her people, if this fatal 
teaching should spread. 

And this strange sect of yesterday, the Emperors would hear 
from their officials, was multiplying to an enormous extent, 
not only in Rome but in all the provinces. 

They would receive reports from all lands how the new 
community called Christian was daily adding fresh converts to 
its extraordinary and dangerous belief, converts drawn from 
the ranks of the humblest traders, from slaves and freedmen 
converts drawn, too, from the noblest families of the Empire. 


They would hear, too, from their responsible officials that 
the new sect, from its great and ever-increasing numbers, its 
striking unity of belief, its perfect organization, had already 
become a power in the State, a real power with which the 
imperial government sooner or later would have assuredly 
to reckon, for it was a power which every day grew more 

And for the first time, too, the pagan Emperors learnt from 
their officials that this new sect was not made up of Jews, 
as had been hitherto generally assumed, but that its members 
were something quite different far, far more formidable and 
dangerous. It was true that there was no suggestion of any 
open revolt on the part of this strange group of subjects, 
such as Vespasian and Hadrian had to meet and to crush 
at Jerusalem and in Palestine in the case of the Jews ; the 
danger to be feared from the Christians was that they were 
gradually winning the people s hearts ; that they were turning 
the people s thoughts from the old gods of Rome to another 
and far greater Being, whom they averred was the loving 
Lord of all men, the supreme arbiter of life and death. 

And to Emperors like the Antonines, whose devout minds 
ever loved to dwell on the constant protection of the Immortals, 
who they were persuaded had loved Rome from time imme 
morial, in whom they strove with sad earnestness to believe, 
to whom they prayed and taught their people to pray, to 
Emperors like Pius and Marcus these Christians, with their 
intense faith, a faith for which they were only too ready to 
die, were indeed abhorrent ; in their eyes they constituted 
an ever-present, an ever-increasing danger to Rome, her 
glorious traditions, her ancient religion, her very existence. 

This was the secret of the new policy pursued by the State 
in its treatment of the Christians. It began to be adopted 
in the last years of Hadrian after the close of the great Jewish 
war in A.D. 134-5, when the Christian sect was discovered to 
be utterly separate from the Jews distinct and even hostile 
to the Jewish race, with other and far more dangerous views 
and hopes ; and when Antoninus Pius set himself to reform 
his people by reminding them of the manners and customs of 
their ancestors, by impressing upon them the duty of a 


more earnest worship of the old gods of Rome, he found in 
the Christians his most dangerous opponents ; hence the 
stern treatment which the new sect received at his hands ; 
hence the policy of persecution which gathered strength during 
his reign, and was intensified in the days of his adopted son 
and successor Marcus. 

On the whole, the usual verdict of tradition respecting 
the condition of Christians under the Antonines must be 
reversed. The reign of Antoninus Pius is commonly repre 
sented as a period of peace for the Church, and little is said 
about the treatment of Christians under the government of 
Antoninus Pius and of Marcus Antoninus. This favourable 
view and usual reticence concerning any Christian sufferings 
during these reigns is largely owing to the high estimation 
in which the two Antonines as rulers are universally held ; 
that these great and good Emperors could persecute and 
harass the followers of Jesus has been usually deemed un 
likely if not impossible. 

To regard such men as persecutors would be to inflict a 
stigma on the character of the two most perfect sovereigns 
whose lives are recorded in history. The first Antoninus 
received his beautiful title " Pius " at the urgent wish of the 
Senate, a wish that was universally endorsed by the public 
opinion of the Empire ; by this title he has been known and 
revered by all succeeding generations. 

Marcus, his adopted son and successor, who, if possible, 
held a yet more exalted place in the estimation of men of his 
own generation, and who has handed down to posterity a 
yet higher reputation for virtue and wisdom, tells us in his 
own glowing and striking words that he owed everything to 
the noble example and teaching of his adopted father Anton 
inus Pius. To this Marcus, when he died, divine honours 
were voluntarily paid with such universal consent that it was 
held sacrilege not to set up his image in a house. 

To brand such men as persecutors, for centuries would 
have been for any historian, Christian or pagan, too daring 
a statement, and such an estimate would have been received 
with distrust, if not with positive derision ; nor is it by any 
means certain that even now such a conclusion will not be 


read by many with cold mistrust and even with repulsion. 
But recent scholarship has clearly demonstrated that the 
Antonines were bitter foes to Christianity, and that during 
their reigns the followers of Jesus were sorely harassed. 
Under the Emperor Marcus the persecutions extended through 
out his reign ; they were, as Lightfoot does not hesitate to 
characterize them, " fierce and deliberate." They were 
aggravated, at least in some cases, by cruel torture. They 
had the Emperor s direct personal sanction. The scenes of 
these persecutions were laid in all parts of the Empire in 
Rome, in Asia Minor, in Gaul, in Africa. 

The martyrdom of Justin and his companions as told in 
the Acts of the Martyrdom of the great Christian teacher, an 
absolutely authentic piece, was carried out in Rome under 
the orders of Rusticus the city prefect, the trusted friend and 
minister of Marcus, under the Emperor s very eyes ; while 
the persecutions at Vienne and Lyons were the most bloody 
persecutions on record up to this date, except, perhaps, the 
Neronian ; and for these Marcus Antoninus is directly and 
personally responsible. 

The Madaurian and Scillitan (proconsular Africa) martyr 
doms apparently took place a few months after the death of 
Marcus, but these martyrdoms were certainly a continuation 
of the persecuting policy of Marcus. And these awful sufferings 
to which the Christian communities were exposed during these 
two reigns are not only learned from the few authentic Acts 
of Martyrdom preserved to us, but from various and numerous 
notices of contemporary writers which we come upon em 
bedded in their histories, apologies, and doctrinal expositions. 
Some of these are quoted l verbatim. The testimony we 
possess here of this continuous and very general perse 
cution during these reigns when carefully massed together 
is simply overwhelming. 2 

1 See pp. 189-90 and 200. 

2 Bishop Lightfoot has been referred to in this brief summary of the 
position of Christians during these two great reigns. This careful and 
exact scholar is most definite in his conclusions here, and his views exactly 
correspond with the views taken in this chapter. 


Nor is the behaviour of the two Antonine Emperors, 
who ruled over the Roman Empire for a period of some 
forty-two years, towards their Christian subjects in any way 
at variance with their known principles. Such men, with their 
lofty ideals, with their firm unyielding persuasion that Rome 
owed her grandeur and power, her past prosperity and her 
present position as a World-Empire, to the protection of the 
Immortals whom their fathers worshipped, could not well 
have acted differently. 

We have seen what was the unvarying policy of Pius in his 
earnest efforts to restore the purer, simpler life led by the old 
Romans who had built up the mighty Empire ; how faithfully 
he had followed in the lines traced out by Vergil, who, as we 
have already quoted, wound up his exquisite picture of the 
ancient Roman life with the solemn injunction " in primis 
venerare dtos." 

The pupil and successor of Pius, the noble Marcus, was if 
possible more " Roman " than Pius ; and his devotion to the 
gods of Rome was even more marked. As a boy he was famous 
for his accurate knowledge of ancient Roman ritual. When 
only eight years old he was enrolled in the College of the Salii, 
reciting from memory archaic liturgical forms but dimly 
understood in his^ays. 1 

Before his departure for the dangerous war with the Mar- 
comanni, he directed that Rome should be ceremonially 
purified according to the ancient rites ; and for seven days 
the images of the gods were feasted as they lay on their couches 
in the public streets. 

But it is in his private life that the intense piety of the 
second Antonine emperor comes out with ever startling clear 
ness. It was no mere State reasons which prompted Marcus to 
uphold the ancient cult of Rome. He evidently believed with 
a fervent belief in these old gods of Rome. For instance, if 
his dear friend and tutor Fronto was ailing, he would pray at 
the altars of the gods that one very dear to him might be eased 
of his pain. 

In that exquisite volume in which in the form of private 

1 This especially refers to the ancient song of the Arval Brotherhood, of 
which college Marcus was also a member. 


and secret memoranda he recorded his inmost thoughts and 
hopes, that little volume which amid the wreckage of con 
temporary literary remains has come down to us intact, 
again and again we meet with words telling of his trust in 
the loving care of the Immortals revered in the Rome of old 
days, but in whose existence in the later times of the Republic 
few seem to have believed. 

Out of a host of such memoranda scattered in the pages 
of the Meditations we will quote two or three of his words 

With respect to the gods, from what I constantly experi 
ence of their power, I am convinced that they exist, and I 
venerate them " (xii. 28). 

The whole of the first book of the Meditations is, in fact, a 
hymn of gratitude to the gods for their loving care of him. 

" Live with the gods/ he writes (v. 2-7) ; " and he who does 
live with the gods constantly shows to them that his own 
soul is satisfied with the (lot) which is assigned to him. . . . 
Zeus has given to every man for his guardian and his guide 
a portion of himself." 

And again (v. 33), " Until that time (thy end) comes, what 
is sufficient ? Why, what else than to venerate the gods and 
bless them ? " 

" If the gods have determined about me, and about the 
things which must happen to me, they have determined well, 
for it is not easy even to imagine a deity without forethought " 
(vii. 4. 4). 

That the Antonine Emperors knew little really of Christi 
anity is almost certain. The name of Jesus was probably 
unknown to either Pius or Marcus, and the canonical Gospels 
evidently had never come before them, although these writings 
were generally current among the Christian congregations 
at that time. Once only in his Meditations does Marcus 
refer to the sect, and then it was clearly with a feeling of 
dislike and repulsion ; their extraordinary readiness to give 
up their lives for their belief, misliked the calm, stoic 
Emperor. " The soul," he wrote, " should be ready at any 
moment to be separated from the body ; but this readiness 
must come from a man s own calm judgment, not from mere 


obstinacy and with a tragic show, as with the Christians " 
(Meditations, xi. 3). 

Marcus before all things, it must ever be remembered, was 
a Roman. To the Emperor, the tradition of Rome was a dogma. 
" Every moment," he wrote, " think ever as a Roman and a 
man ; do whatever thou hast in hand with perfect and simple 
dignity" (n. 5)- 

That he abhorred the Christian sect who poured scorn upon 
the traditions he loved, and contempt upon the gods whom he 
adored, was perfectly natural ; and it must be remembered 
that not only before the judge when they were arraigned did 
the Christians express utter disbelief in the gods of Rome, but 
not unfrequently the more fanatical Christians went out of their 
way to insult these deities in whom Marcus believed with a 
real intensity. 

When the noble Emperor had passed away, the leniency 
with which his evil successor Commodus treated the Church 
was owing largely to his dislike and jealousy of his father and 
his policy. In the following century (the third) the gentle 
ness of the treatment of Christians in the reigns of Alexander 
Severus and Philip the Arabian was mainly owing to the fact 
that these Emperors had little sympathy with the Roman 
tradition ; they were certainly foreigners : the first of them, 
Alexander Severus, was a Syrian pure and simple. The name 
by which Philip is always known tells us of his foreign 
nationality. The famous persecutors of the third century, 
Decius, Aurelius and Diocletian, were believers in the Roman 
tradition, and adopted as the groundwork of their policy here, 
the principles of Trajan and the Antonines. 

No crime was necessary to be proved in these reigns when 
one of the sect was arraigned. The mere fact of the accused 
being a Christian ensured at once condemnation. Christianity 
was utterly incompatible with the ancient traditions of Rome. 




THE scene of the following sketches of the life of a Chris 
tian of the first days is, generally speaking, laid in 
Rome ; but much of what belonged to the Christian 
of the Roman congregation was common to the believer who 
dwelt in other great cities of the Empire 

The sketches in question deal with the following subjects : 

1. The numbers of believers in the first two centuries 
which followed the death of Peter and Paul. 

2. The assemblies or meetings together of the Christian 
folk in those very early times are specially dwelt on. These 
assemblies were an extremely important and influential factor 
in the life of the believer. This was recognized in the New 
Testament writings and in the contemporary writings of the 
earliest teachers of the faith. 

3. The various classes of the population of a great city 
which composed these early assemblies are enumerated. 

4. What was taught and done at these early gatherings 
together of Christians is set forth with some detail. 

5. Outside these gatherings, the life of a believer in the 
world is referred to with especial regard to the many diffi 
culties which were constantly encountered by one who pro 
fessed the religion of Jesus. 

6. The methods by which these difficulties were to be 
grappled with are described. Two schools of teaching evi 
dently existed here, generally characterized as the " Rigourist " 
and the " Gentle " schools. These are briefly dwelt upon. 

7. In the concluding paragraphs of this sketch of the 
early Christian life, what Christianity offered in return for the 
hard and often painful life which its professors had to live, 
is sketched. 


THERE is no shadow of doubt but that in a comparatively 
short space of time the religion of Jesus was accepted 
by great numbers of the dwellers in the various pro 
vinces of the Roman Empire. This fact is abundantly testified 
to by contemporary writers, Christian and pagan. 

The only other widely professed religion with which we can 
compare it Mahommedanism owed its rapid progress and 
the extraordinary numbers of its proselytes mainly to the 
sword of the conquerors. Christianity, on the other hand, 
possessed no army to enforce its tenets. It was not even 
the heritage of a people or a nation. The Jews, to whom in 
the first days of its existence it might have belonged, were very 
soon to be reckoned among its deadliest foes. 

One powerful factor which influenced the reception of the 
new religion has been rarely dwelt upon, but it deserves 
more than a merely passing notice. 

The news of the religion of Jesus, as by many channels it 
reached the slave, often a highly educated slave," the freed- 
man, the merchant, the small trader, the soldier of the 
legions, the lawyer, the Roman patrician, the women of the 
varied classes and orders in the great Empire, the news 
came of something that had quite recently happened ; and 
not only recently, but in a well-known city of the Empire. 
It was a wonderful story, firmly and strongly attested by 
many eye-witnesses, and it appealed at once to the hearts 
of all sorts and conditions of men. 

It differed curiously from all other religions of which the 
pagans of the Empire had ever heard. These other religions 
were very ancient ; their cradle, so to speak, belonged to 
far back days pre-historical days, as men would now call 


them. This new religion really belonged to their own time. 
Its founder had talked with men quite recently. He had 
lived in a city they knew a good deal about. 

There was no dim mist about its origin ; no old legends 
had gathered round it legends which few, if any, believed. 

The story of the religion of Jesus, told so simply, so con 
vincingly, in the four Gospels, had a strange attraction ; it 
went home to the hearts of a vast multitude ; it rang true 
and real. 

We know that very soon after the date of the events of 
the Gospel story the numbers of the men and women who 
accepted it were great. From the pagan Empire we have 
the testimony of Tacitus, the most eminent of Roman historians. 
Writing some fifty years after the first persecution under 
Nero, A.D. 64, he describes the Christians at the time of that 
first persecution as "a vast multitude " (ingens multitude). 1 

Still more in detail the younger Pliny, the Governor of 
Bithynia, writing to the Emperor Trajan circa A.D. 112-13 
for instructions how to deal with the Christians, relates that 
the new religion had spread so widely in his province, not 
merely in the cities but in the villages and country districts 
generally, that the temples were almost deserted. 2 It is, of 
course, possible that the new faith had found especial favour 
in Bithynia ; but such a formal and detailed representation 
from an official of the highest rank and reputation to the 
Emperor of what was happening in his own province, is a 
sure indication of the enormous strides which Christianity 
had generally made in the Empire when the echoes of 
apostles and apostolic men were still ringing in the ears of 
their disciples. S. John s death only preceded Pliny s 
letter to Trajan 3 by at most twenty years. 

Among contemporary Christian writers we find similar 
testimony to the vast numbers of Christians in very early 
times. To take a few conspicuous examples : 

1 Tacitus, Annals, xv. 44. 

2 Further details of Pliny s report to the Emperor Trajan upon the numbers 
of Christians in his province will be found above, Book I. pp. 49-62. 

8 Pliny, Epist. ad Trajan, 96. 


Clement, bishop of Rome circa A.D. 95, writing to the 
Church at Corinth, speaks of " the great multitude of Chris 
tians " who suffered in the persecution of Nero, A.D. 64. 1 

Hermas, in his book termed the Shepherd, shows us 
that in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, circa A.D. 130-40, 
there was resident a large number of Christians in the 
capital, many of them well-to-do and wealthy citizens. 

Soter, bishop of Rome, writing to the Church of Corinth, 2 
shortly after A.D. 165, refers to the Christians as superior in 
numbers to the Jews, no doubt especially alluding to the Roman 
congregation mentioned. 

In the Acts of the Martyrdom of Justin, circa A.D. 165, 
an undoubtedly genuine piece, Rusticus the Roman prefect 
asks Justin where the Christians assembled. In reply, Justin 
said, " Where each one chooses and can ; for do you imagine 
that we all meet in the very same place ? " 

Irenaeus in a very striking passage, 3 written circa A.D. 180, 
alludes to the size and importance of the Roman congregation. 
His words are as follows : 

" Since, however, it would be most tedious in such a 
volume as this to reckon up the (Episcopal) succession of 
all the Churches, \ve confound all those who assemble in 
unauthorized meetings by indicating the tradition handed 
down from the apostles of the most great, the very ancient, 
and universally known Church organized by the two most 
glorious apostles, Peter and Paul." 

The statements of Tertullian circa A.D. 195-200 are well 
known and are often quoted ; and though they are probably 
exaggerated, still such assertions, although they are rhetori 
cal rather than simple statistics, would never have been 
advanced by such a learned and weighty writer if the numbers 
of the Christians of his time (the latter years of the second 
century) had not, in many cities and countries, been very 

1 Clement of Rome, Epist. ad Cor. vi. 

2 The quotation referred to is from the so-called 2nd Epistle of Clement of 
Rome (section 2), which Harnack attributes to Soter, bishop of Rome. 
Lightfoot, however, places the Epistle even earlier (circa A.D. 140), and con 
siders it the work of an anonymous writer. 

3 Irenaeus, adv. H&r. t book iii. 2. 


In the works of Tertullian we come across such state 
ments as the following : 

" The grievance (of the pagan government) is that the 
State is filled with Christians ; that they are in the fields, 
in the citadels, in blocks of houses (which fill up the cities). 
It grieves (does the government), as over some calamity, that 
both sexes indifferently, all ages, every condition, even persons 
of high rank, are passing over to the Christian ranks." 1 

And again : " We are not Indian Brahmins who dwell in 
forests and exile themselves from the common life of men. . . . 
We company with you in the world, forsaking neither the life 
of the Forum, nor the Bath, nor Workshop, nor Inn, nor 
Market-place, nor any Mart of commerce. We sail with 
you, fight with you, till the ground with you, even we 
share in the various arts." 2 

About fifty years after Tertullian s writing just quoted, 
Cornelius, bishop of Rome, A.D. 251, in an Epistle addressed 
to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, 3 gives some official statistics of 
the Roman Church in his days. 1 Cornelius particularizes the 
classes of the various officials, together with the numbers 
of persons in distress who were on the lists of the Church 
receiving charitable relief. Scholars and experts, basing their 
calculations upon these official statistics, variously estimate 
the numbers of Christians in the city of Rome at from 30,000 
to 50,000, the latter calculation on the whole being probably 
nearest to the truth. 

Lastly, in this little sketch of the vast numbers of dis 
ciples who at a very early date had joined the Christian com 
munity, the changeless testimony of the Roman catacombs 
must be cited. Much will be found written in this work 
regarding these enormous cemeteries of the Christian dead. 
It is absolutely certain that in the second half of the first 
century these catacombs were already begun. 

The words of the eminent German scholar Harnack may 
well be quoted here : " The number, the size, and the extent 
of the Roman catacombs ... is so great that even from 
them we may infer the size of the Roman Church, its steady 

1 Tertullian, Apologeticus, i. 2 Ibid. 42. 

Quoted in Eusebius, H. ., book vi. chap. 43. * See below, p. 120. 


growth, its adherents from distinguished families, its spread 
all over Rome." l 

The foregoing contemporary witnesses, including the 
testimony of the Church to the size and numbers of the 
Christian congregation, speak of the Roman Christians with 
two notable exceptions the pagan Pliny and the Christian 
Tertullian. The others, including Clement of Rome, Hermas, 
Justin Martyr, Soter, Irenaeus, Cornelius, are specially writing 
of Rome and the Christian portion of its population. 

But, as has been already remarked, what was written 
of Rome in a greater or less degree applies to other great 
centres of population in the Empire, notably to such centres 
as Antioch and Ephesus, Alexandria and Carthage. 

1 Professor Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, book iv. 
chap. iii. sec. 14. 



THE Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline and other New 
Testament Epistles, bear witness to the favourable 
reception of the preaching of the new faith. Paul s 
success in Macedonia, Achaia, in the province of Asia, and 
in Galatia had been extraordinary. Peter in his First Epistle 
addresses the converts already scattered throughout Pontus, 
Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Paul again expressly 
mentions in a letter to the Roman Christians, that the faith 
of the Roman Church was spoken of throughout the whole 

The story of the progress of Christianity was taken up 
by the pagan writers Tacitus and Pliny, and was dwelt upon 
by Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, Justin, Irenaeus, and 
the other Christian writers of the first and second centuries 
already quoted. 

Thus the great numbers of Christians in Rome and in other 
centres dating from primitive days, already dwelt upon with 
some detail, is a clear and indisputable fact. 

Nothing did more for the progress and extension of the 
Christian religion than the constant meeting together, the 
assemblies of the various congregations of believers. 

This was recognized from the earliest days. We read in the 
Epistle to the Hebrews (x. 25) a solemn injunction to Christians 
not " to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the 
manner of some is/ 

Definite allusions to such " assemblies of believers " occur 
in the New Testament writings, in the Acts and in the 
Epistles, e.g. i Cor. xi. 20 and following verses, Jas. ii. 2-4. 

The importance attached to these meetings of believers 
by the rulers and teachers of the Church of the first days, 



is manifest from the chain of reminders and injunctions 
to the faithful which exists in the contemporary writings we 
possess of leading Christians, dating from the latter years of the 
first and all through the second and third centuries. 

The words they heard, and the matters decided upon at 
these gatherings, more or less coloured and guided the life and 
conduct of Christians in the world. From the first the Sunday 
meeting seems to have been obligatory ; but these meetings of 
the brethren were by no means confined to the general assembly 
on Sunday. So we read in the Didache (the Teaching of 
the Apostles), a writing probably dating from the latter years 
of the first century : " Thou shalt seek out every day the 
company of the Saints, to be refreshed by their words." l 
" Let us," writes Clement, bishop of Rome (circa A.D. 95), 
" ourselves then being gathered together in concord with 
intentness of heart, cry unto Him as from one mouth earnestly, 
that we may be made partakers of His great and glorious 
promise." 2 

So S. Ignatius (circa A.D. 107-10) in his Epistle to the 
Ephesian Church 3 writes : " Do your diligence therefore to 
meet together more frequently for thanksgiving to God, and for 
His glory ; for when ye meet together frequently the powers of 
Satan are cast down, and his mischief cometh to nought in 
the concord of your faith." 

In his letter to Polycarp he says : " Let meetings be held 
more frequently." 4 

Barnabas (circa A.D. 120-30) : " Keep not apart by your 
selves, as if you were already justified ; but meet together, and 
confer upon the common weal. 5 

Justin Martyr in his first Apology, written in the middle 
of the second century describes these meetings of the brethren 
with some detail. 6 

A very striking passage occurs in a writing of Theophilus, 
the sixth bishop of Antioch, addressed to his friend Autolycus. 
Its date is between A.D. 168 and A.D. 181. The power which 

1 DidachS, iv. 2. - Clement of Rome, Ep. ad Cor. 34. 

8 Ignatius, ad Eph. 13. * Ad Polyc. 4. 

* Barnabas, Ep. 4. 

6 See for detailed account of Justin Martyr s description, p. 113. 


these meetings of the brethren exercised over the life of 
Christians is described as follows : 

"As in the Sea there are Islands . . . with havens and 
harbours in which the storm-tossed may find refuge, so God 
has given to the world, which is driven and tempest-tossed by 
sins, assemblies ... in which survive the doctrines of the 
truth, as in the island-harbours of good anchorage ; and into 
these run those who desire to be saved . . . and who wish 
to escape the wrath and judgment of God." l 

1 Theophilus to Autolycus, xiv. 



FROM the very first days, it is certain that the assemblies 
or congregations of the Christians were made up of all 
classes and orders of the people. The lower classes, 
including slaves, freedmen, artisans, small traders, no doubt 
were in the majority ; but from the beginning, persons of 
position, culture, and even of rank were certainly reckoned 
among them. 

In the days of the apostles we hear of many such. Among 
the earliest believers were reckoned a Nicodemus, a Joseph of 
Arimathea, a Barnabas, a Sergius Paulus. In Acts vi. 7 
mention is made of a great company of the priests obedient 
to the faith. Chapter x. tells us of the centurion who 
sent for S. Peter. Paul himself and Stephen were men of 
high culture. Priscilla the wife of Aquila and the Phoebe of 
Rom. xvi. i were evidently persons of considerable means. 
Others might be named in these categories. S. James (ii. 14) 
in his picture of one of these meetings alludes to the presence 
of the rich among the worshippers. Tacitus speaks of 
a lady of distinguished birth (insignis femina) who evidently 
belonged to the Christian ranks ; and very shortly after, some 
near connexions of the imperial house of Domitian were 
persecuted for their faith. 

Pliny, when he wrote to Trajan, tells him how many of all 
ranks in the province of Bithynia had joined the Christian 

Ignatius in the early years of the second century, writing 
to the Roman Church, gives utterance to his fear lest influential 
members of the Church should intercede for him, and so hinder 
his being exposed to the beasts in the amphitheatre games. 


Roman Christians of wealth and position are clearly 
alluded to by Hermas in the Shepherd (Comm. x. i), and 
he assumes the presence of such in the Roman congregation 
(Simil. i. etc.) 

In the famous dialogue of Minucius Felix, circa A.D. 160, 
the speakers belong to the higher ranks ; these under thinly 
disguised names were probably actual personages well known 
in their day. The scene and story of the writing, the class of 
argument brought forward, all evidently issued from and were 
addressed to a highly cultured circle. 

In the writings of Justin Martyr, dating from about the 
middle of the second century, are various references to the 
presence of wealthy and cultured persons in the Christian 
congregation of Rome. 

Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, whose pictures of 
Christian life belong to the latter years of the second century, 
bear ample testimony to the same fact. Clement even wrote 
a special treatise entitled, What rich man can be saved ? in which 
he refers not to pagans whose conversion to Christianity was 
to be aimed at, but to those who were Christians and at the 
same time wealthy. 1 

Tertullian again and again refers to the presence of the 
rich and the noble in the Christian Churches, in such passages 
where he speaks of thousands of every age and rank among 
the brethren of officials of the Empire, of officers of the 
imperial household, of lawyers, and even of men of senatorial 
rank. In his passionate appeals, too, he singles out fashionable 
ladies, and dwells on their costly dress and jewels. 

But the most striking proof of the presence of many high 
born and wealthy members of the Christian Brotherhood 
in this congregation dating from primitive times, after all 
exists in that wonderful City of the Dead beneath the suburbs 
of Rome which is now being explored. 

These Roman catacombs, as they are termed, in the large 

1 Harnack well observes that among Clement of Alexandria s writings, 
the PcBdagogus evidently assumes that the Church for which its teaching 
was designed embraced a large number of cultured people. 

The same conclusion must be arrived at in respect of many of Irenaeus 
writings. Irenaeus wrote in the last quarter of the second century. 


majority of cases in the first instance began in the villa gardens 
of the rich, and were, as time went on, enlarged by their 
owners in order to offer the hospitality of the tomb to their 
poorer brothers and sisters. 

As we shall see in our chapter dealing with these all- 
important memories of early Roman Christianity, as cemetery 
after cemetery is examined we come upon more and more 
relics in marble and stone which tell of great and powerful 
Roman families who had thrown in their lot with the despised 
and persecuted people who had accepted the story of Jesus 
of Nazareth, and who, in common with the slave and petty 
tradesman, shared in the hard trials of the Christian life, and 
welcomed the joys and solace of the glorious Christian hope. 

These striking memories of the Christian dead, who in life 
bore great names and possessed ample means, date from the 
first century onward. One of the more famous of these very 
early catacombs, the cemetery of Domitilla, was the work 
of the members of the imperial family of near relatives of 
the Emperor Domitian. 

Indeed the composition of the meetings of the Christian 
Brotherhood varied very little from the days of Peter and 
Paul to the era of the Emperor Constantine. The numbers 
of these assemblies, however, increased with strange rapidity. 
There were, of course, in primitive times but few of these 
assemblies. By the end of the third century there were in the 
city of Rome some forty basilicas, each with its separate staff 
of ministers and its individual congregation. 1 

1 The more eminent of the Gnostic teachers who in the first instance separ 
ated themselves from the Christian congregations, as far as we can judge from 
the comparatively rare fragments which we possess of their writings, evidently 
had in view highly cultured readers and listeners. We allude especially to 
Valentinus and his famous pupil Heracleon. These Gnostic writers taught 
and wrote in the second half of the second century. The period of activity 
of the second of these, Heracleon, is generally given as circa A.D. 170-80. 
Valentinus was somewhat earlier. 



JUSTIN Martyr in his first Apology, which was written, 
before A.D. 139, gives us a good picture of one of these 
primitive Christian assemblies in Rome. The early date 
of this writing enables us to form an accurate idea of the 
outward procedure of one of these most important factors 
in the Christian life in the first half of the second 

Justin has been explaining the nature of the Eucharist ; 
he then goes on to say : " We continually remind each other 
of these things. And the rich among us help the poor, 
and we always keep together ; and for all things which 
are given us, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus 
Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called 
Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together 
to one place, and the Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings 
of the Prophets are read, as time allows ; then when the reader 
has done, the president (of the assembly), in an address, in 
structs, and exhorts to the imitation of the good things (which 
had formed the subject of the address). Then we all rise 
and pray ; and when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and 
water are brought, and the president offers prayers and 
thanksgivings according to his ability ; and the people assent, 
saying, Amen ; and there is a distribution to each, and a 
participation of that over which thanks have been given ; 
and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 
" And they who are well-to-do and willing, give what each 
thinks fit ; and what is collected is deposited with the president, 
who succours the orphans and widows, and those who through 
sickness or any other cause are in want, and those who are 
8 II3 


in bonds, and the stranger sojourning among us in a word, 
takes care of all who are in need. 

" Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common 

Justin goes on to explain the reason of the choice of Sunday, 
dwelling especially on the fact of Jesus Christ having risen from 
the dead on that day. 

Such is a sketch of the framework of one of these primitive 
meetings of the Christian Brotherhood, drawn by an eye-witness 
some time in the first half of the second century, at most thirty 
or forty years after S. John s death. 

It is a little picture of a gathering composed of all sorts and 
conditions of men and women, of slaves and freedmen, of 
artisans, tradesmen, and soldiers, with a certain admixture of 
cultured and wealthy persons,drawn together in the first instance 
by the pressure of the burden of the awful sadness of life, by a 
belief, hazy at first, but growing clearer and more definite 
every day, as the congregation listened to these teachers who 
dwelt on the words and acts of the Divine Redeemer who had 
visited this earth for their sakes. 

For they came together to hear more of the Redeemer who 
had sojourned so lately among men. They listened while the 
Christian teacher who presided over the gathering explained the 
historic words,the commandments and promises of that pitiful, 
loving Master who had entered into their life ; they would then 
partake of the mystic Eucharist feast together ; and as they 
partook of the sacred bread and wine as He had- bidden His 
followers to do in memory of Him and His death and suffering 
for their sakes, they would feel He was indeed in their midst, 
and that new life, new hope were theirs. 

The dogmatic teaching in these early assemblies was very 
simple, but strangely sublime. It was given in a language 
every one could understand. It went home to the hearts of all 
of the wise and unlearned alike. The story of the Gospels, 
the wonderful words of the Master were at once the text and 
subject of every sermon and exposition. 

We have among our precious reliquiae of the earliest days 
enough to show us what was the groundwork of this primitive 


An atonement had been made by the Divine One who had 
come among men ; He had suffered for them, and by His 
suffering had redeemed them. In all the earliest Christian 
writings which we possess, thisjgreat truth is repeated again 
and again. With adoring gratitude the Christian Brotherhood 
loved and worshipped Him. Jesus Christ was the centre of all 
their hopes the source of their strange, newly found happi 
ness. 1 

Very briefly we will quote a very few of these important 
dogmatic sayings pressed home to the believers when they met 

Clement of Rome circa A.D. 95 : 

" Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, and understand 
how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our 
salvation." Ep. i. 7. 

" Let us fear the Lord Jesus whose blood was given for 
us." Ep. i. ii. 

" Jesus Christ our Lord hath given His blood for us, by the 
will of God . . . His life for our lives." Ep. i. 49. 

Ignatius of Antioch circa A.D. 10710. 

" It is evident to me that you are living not after men but 
after Jesus Christ who died for us, that believing on His death 
ye might escape death." Ep. ad Trail. 2. 

" Him (Jesus Christ) I seek, who died on our behalf ; Him I 
desire, who rose again (for our sake)." Ep. ad Rom. 6. 

After relating the passion of the Cross, Ignatius went on to 
say : " For He suffered these things for our sakes (that we 
might be saved)." Ep. ad Smyrn. 1,2. 

" Even the heavenly beings, and the glory of the angels, 
and the rulers visible and invisible, if they believe not in the 
blood of Christ (who is God), judgment awaiteth them also."- 
Ep. ad Smyrn. 6. 

" Await Him . . . the Eternal, the Invisible, who became 
visible for our sakes ; the Impalpable, the Impassible, who 

1 This is strikingly put by F. W. Myers in his poem " S. Paul " : 

"This hath he done and shall we not adore Him ? 

This shall He do and can we still despair ? 

Come let us quickly fling ourselves before Him, 

Cast at His feet the burden of our care." 


suffered for our sake, who endured in all ways for our sake." 
Ep. ad Poly carp, 3. 

Epistle to Diognetus, early in second century, an 
anonymous writing : 

" He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, 
He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the Holy One 
for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the 
righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One 
for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are 

" For what other thing was capable of covering our sins 
than His righteousness ? By what other One was it possible 
that we, the wicked and the ungodly, could be justified, than 
by the only Son of God ? " 

" Oh sweet exchange ! Oh unsearchable operation ! Oh 
benefits surpassing expectation ! that the wickedness of many 
shall be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteous 
ness of One should justify many transgressors ! " 

" Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our 
nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed 
the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was 
(formerly) impossible to save, by both these facts He desired 
to lead us to trust in His kindness, to deem Him our Minister 
Father Teacher Counsellor Healer our Wisdom, Light, 
Honour, Glory, Power and Life." Ep. ad Diog. ix. 

Shepherd of Her mas written circa A.D. 140. 

" He Himself (the Son of God) then having purged away 
the sins of the people, showed them the paths of life, by giving 
them the law which He received from His Father." 

Epistle of Barnabas written circa A.D. 120-50 : 

" For to this end the Lord endured to deliver up His flesh 
to corruption, that we might be sanctified through the re 
mission of sins, which is effected by His blood of sprinkling. "- 
Ep. Barnabas, v. 

" If, therefore, the Son of God, who is Lord (of all things), 
and who will judge the living and the dead, suffered, that 
His stroke might give us life, let us believe that the Son 
of God could not have suffered except for our sakes."- 
Ep. Barnabas, vii. 


" Thou shall love Him that created thee, thou shalt glorify 
Him that redeemed thee from death." Ep. Barnabas, xix. 
Justin Martyr writing between circa A.D. 114 and A.D. 


" Isaiah," wrote Justin, " did not send you to a laver, 
there to wash away murder and other sins ; but those who 
repented were purified by faith through the blood of Christ, 
and through His death, who died for this very reason. "- 
Dial, with Trypho, xiii. 

Writing of Jesus Christ, Justin comments thus on the words 
written by Moses as prophesied by the patriarch Jacob : 
" He shall wash his garments with wine, and his vesture 
with the blood of the grape." This signified that " He (Jesus 
Christ) would wash those who believe in Him with His own 
blood." Dial, with Trypho, liv. 

" If, then, the Father of all wished His Christ to take upon 
Him the curses of all, knowing that after He had been crucified 
and was dead, He would raise Him up " . . . 

" For although His Father caused Him to suffer these 
things in behalf of the human family "... 

" If His Father wished Him to suffer thus in order that 
by His stripes the human race might be healed." Dial, with 
Trypho, xcv. 

" And as the blood of the Passover saved those who were 
in Egypt, so also the blood of Christ will deliver from death 
those who have believed." Dial, with Trypho, cxi. 

In well-nigh all these reliquiae of the earliest Christian 
teaching, copious use was made of that wonderful 53rd chapter 
of Isaiah, in which the Hebrew seer sketched with a startling 
accuracy of detail some of the leading features of the awful 
drama of the Divine Atonement for all sin. 1 The scene of 
this drama was the storied Holy City, and the One who 
made the great Atonement was He who on earth was known 
as Jesus Christ and in heaven as the Son of God. 

1 The more notable of the Atonement prophecy passages in Isaiah were : 
"Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. ... He was 
wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chasten 
ing of our peace was upon Him ; and with His stripes we are healed. . . . He 
shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied : by His knowledge shall my 
righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isa. liii.). 


The above " Catena Aurea " (golden chain) of passages 
is taken from the works we possess of the earliest teachers 
of Christianity who wrote in the fifty years immediately follow 
ing the passing of S. John the beloved apostle, and they tell 
us exactly what was the doctrine pressed home to the Brother 
hood in the early assemblies of Christians of which we are here 

There were other dogmas, no doubt, included in the teaching 
of these early assemblies and meetings, such as the resurrec 
tion of the flesh ; the great reckoning before the Judge, at 
which even the just would tremble were it not that the Judge 
was at the same time their Redeemer and loving Friend. 
The unspeakable joys of Paradise, the garden of their God 
and Saviour, were constantly dwelt upon, and the good glad 
tidings would fall like dew from heaven upon the world- 
weary, sad-eyed listeners. 

But the great doctrine of the " Atonement," at once simple 
and sublime, so repeatedly pressed home in the above quoted 
words of the earliest teachers, was no doubt the strongest 
inducement which drew the Christian folk to meet often 
together was the link which bound them into one brother 
hood, and knit them at the same time to the loving 

It was a new preaching, this secret of the great love 
of God which passeth understanding, and one that excited 
wonderful and soul-stirring fears and hopes, and which filled 
the small dark corridors and low-browed chapels of the Roman 
catacombs which the faithful often used as meeting-homes 
for teaching and for prayer, with what seemed to the groups 
of worshippers verily a Divine light ; and to these early Chris 
tian worshippers, the gloomy rough-hewn sleeping-places of 
the dead, through which the pilgrim traveller now wanders 
and wonders, seemed to them the very ante-chambers of 

We have dwelt with some insistence upon the dogmatic 
teaching which without doubt formed a part, and that by no 
means an inconsiderable part, of the procedure of the primitive 
gatherings of Christians ; for it is often urged that the great 
bond which united the brethren of the very early Church 


was only the beautiful mutual love and charity urged in 
these gatherings. 

There is some truth in this assertion. It was a new life 
which was preached, and to a certain extent lived, by the 
Christian Brotherhood. It was a life quite different to any 
thing which had existed before the Redeemer went in and 
out among men. We shall dwell on it presently ; but it must 
never be forgotten that the mainspring of this new life was 
the doctrine of the Cross of the Atonement made by that 
Divine One who had founded the new religion. 

The belief in the supreme Divinity of Jesus, who had come 
from heaven to redeem men, was the foundation story of 
the wonderful love and boundless charity which lived in their 
midst, a love which charmed the hearts of all sorts and con 
ditions of men, and attracted more and ever more weary 
and heavy-laden men and women to join the company of 


The duty and delight of materially assisting the poor and 
sad-eyed brothers and sisters of the community became an 
absorbing passion in the lives of very many of the rich and 
well-to-do members of each congregation ; and in populous 
centres the abundance of the alms publicly contributed or 
privately given is a sure indication that many well-to-do 
and even wealthy persons were at an early date numbered 
among the Christians. 

The splendid charities of the Church of the first days no 
doubt did much to bring about the rapid progress of the 
religion of Jesus. There was an intense reality in the love of 
the Christians of the first days for one another. " See," says 
Tertullian (Apol. xxxix., quoting from the pagan estimate of 
the new society, " how they love one another." So Caecilius 
(in Mimtcius Felix, ix.) tells us " they love one another almost 
before they are acquainted." 

Justin Martyr, in his picture already quoted of a Christian 
assembly in the first half of the second century, speaks, as we 
have seen, in detail of the destination of the alms collected. 1 

1 See above, pp. 113, 114. 


Tertullian, writing in the last years of the same century on 
what took place at these meetings of the brethren, relates how 
" each of us puts in a small amount one day in the month, or 
whenever he pleases, but only if he pleases, and if he is able ; 
for there is no compulsion in the matter, every one contribut 
ing of his own free will. The amounts so collected are expended 
on poor orphans, in support of old folk, ... on those who are 
in the mines, or exiled, or in prison, so long as their distress is 
for the sake of God s fellowship." 

We notice how often it is repeated that all these offerings 
are purely voluntary the idea of communism l was absolutely 
unknown in the Church of the first days. The fact that there 
were rich and poor is ever acknowledged. This is especially 
marked in the tombs of the catacombs, where the rich were 
laid to sleep in costly and even in splendidly adorned chambers, 
leading out of the corridors where the bodies of the poorer 
ones were tenderly and reverently buried, but in far humbler 
and unadorned resting-places. 

In less that fifty years after Tertullian s time, Cornelius, 
bishop of Rome, in a letter written circa A.D. 250 (quoted 
by Eusebius, H. E. vi. 43), gives us a fairly exhaustive cata 
logue of the officials and the persons in distress supported 
by the voluntary contributions of the Roman Brotherhood. 
He enumerates forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, seven 
sub-deacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two exorcists, readers, 
and doorkeepers, together with fifteen hundred widows and 
persons in poverty maintained constantly by the alms of the 

It is evident from the references in writings of the second 
century that almsgiving in the Church of the first days occupied 
in the hearts of believers a higher place, a far more important 

1 If the experiment of " communism " in the early Christian Church was 
ever tried, it was in the congregation of Jerusalem, and there it is clear that 
the results were simply disastrous ; very soon the Church of Jerusalem was 
reduced to the direst straits. There are very many allusions to this state of 
things in S. Paul s Epistles, where collections for the " poor saints in Jerusalem " 
are constantly mentioned ; yet even in that Church, where apparently some 
attempt at a community of goods was evidently made, entire renunciation 
was evidently, as we see in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, never obligatory, 
but was ever purely voluntary. 


position, than it filled in the dogmatic teaching of mediaeval 
and yet later times. 

The immeasurable work effected by the blessed Redeemer 
is never minimized by the earliest and most weighty of the 
Christian teachers, as we have seen in our little chain of quoted 
passages ; but it is indisputable that they considered that 
something might be done by men themselves. Anns, accord 
ing to these early instructors, held a very high position in the 
new beautiful life they taught men who loved the Lord to 
strive after. 

We will quote a few prominent examples of this very early 
teaching which, of course, was pressed home to the Brotherhood 
who gathered together in these primitive assemblies ; and to 
a large extent we see that this somewhat peculiar dogmatic 
teaching concerning the value of almsgiving had a marked 
and striking effect upon the listeners. 

For instance, in the Didache (Teaching of the Apostles), 
written in the last years of the first century, we read : 

" If thou possessest (anything) by thy hands, thou shalt 
give a ransom for thy sins." Didache, iv. 

This was no new idea in Hebrew theology ; see Dan. iv. 27 : 
" Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by 
showing mercy to the poor." See Prov. xvi. 6, and also 
Tob. xii. 8, 9. 

So in the Testaments of the XII. Patriarchs, put out in the 
first quarter of the second century : 

" For in proportion as a man is pitiful to the poor, will the 
Lord be pitiful towards him " (Zabulon 7). 

" Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, even as repentance 
from sin. Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving than 
both ; and love covereth a multitude of sins/ 1 but prayer 
out of a good conscience delivereth from death. Blessed is 
every man that is found full of these. For almsgiving lifteth 
off the burden of sin." 2nd Epistle of Clement (part, of an 
ancient homily put out circa A.D. 130 to 150). 2 

1 The writer here evidently means " atones for a multitude of our own 
sins " ; so Tertullian, Scorpiace, 6 (see Bishop Lightfoot, Clement of Rome, 
part i. vol. ii. p. 232). 

2 See note (p. 1 04) on authorship and date of 2nd Epistle of Clement of Rome. 


S. Cyprian about the middle of the third century develops 
almsgiving into a formal means of grace, and indeed assigns a 
distinct propitiatory value to alms, representing them as a 
means of prolonging the effectiveness of baptism and abolish 
ing subsequent frailties. 1 

Lactantius Inst. vi. 12 circa end of fourth century : 

" Mercy has a great reward (magna est misericordia merces), 
for God promises to it that He will remit all sins." 

5. Chrysostom speaks of this as " the medicine for our sins." 

In the Apostolical Constitutions, vii. 12 (probably put out 
in the form that we possess them circa the end of the fourth 
or early in the fifth century) , we read : 

" If thou hast (acquired anything by the work of thy 
hands) give, that thou mayest labour for the redemption of 
thy sins ; for by alms and acts of faith sins are purged away." 

All this is somewhat an exaggerated development of a 
teaching which in the primitive Church undoubtedly elevated 
almsgiving to a chief place in Christian practice ; but that 
charity and kindness to the poor and needy in primitive 
times often were regarded positively as a formal means of 
grace, is clear from the weighty early references just quoted, 
such honoured names as Cyprian and later even Chrysostom 
appearing among the supporters of this view. That it was 
an exaggerated estimate is, however, clear from the plain words 
of Paul in his exquisite Psalm of Love (i Cor. xiii.), where 
under the general term of love or charity he expressly in 
cludes much besides mere almsgiving. 

But, apart from this somewhat curious development and 
perhaps exaggerated view, there remains the undisputed 
fact that almsgiving was urged upon the primitive con 
gregations of Christians with a force and insistency quite 
unknown in mediaeval and modern times ; and the splendid 
voluntary generosity to the poor and needy and forlorn on 
the part not only of the well-to-do, but of all who had anything 
to give, however little, was no doubt a most important element 
in the rapid extension of the Christian religion. It demon 
strated, as nothing else could, the real and intense love of 
Christians one for the other. It was verity a brotherhood, and 

1 See Archbishop Benson, Cyprian, vi. i. 


constantly, even in the most exalted quarters, 1 evoked the 
grudging admiration of the bitterest foes of the religion 
of Jesus. 

So numerous, so touching, so insistent are the early 
references here, that it would be simply impossible to 
quote even a small part of them. But a very few examples 
from early writings will, however, show what was the nature 
of the exhortations and teaching here which we know were 
pressed home in every one of these early gatherings of the 
Christian Brotherhood. 

The ist Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (circa A.D. 
90 or earlier) has been well described as matchless in early 
Christian literature as an elaborate and effective piece of 
writing, lit up with all the brotherly affection of the Church. 

Such sentences as these occur in the Epistle : " Who did 
not proclaim your splendid hospitality (to strangers) you 
did everything without respect of persons . . . you are more 
ready to give than to take. Day and night you agonized 
for all the Brotherhood, that by means of comparison and 
care the number of God s elect might be saved. You never 
rued an act of kindness, but were ready for every good work." 

In the Didache (Teaching of the Apostles) we come 
across such directions as 

" To every one that asketh thee give, and ask not back ; 
for to all the Father wishes to give of His own gracious gifts/ 

" Blessed is he that giveth. . . . Let thine alms drop like 
sweat into thy hands, so long as thou knowest to whom thou 
givest" This last injunction, from the way it is introduced, 
is probably a reference to some unwritten traditional saying 
spoken by our Lord Himself. Didache, i. 

" Thou shalt not hesitate to give, nor in giving shalt thou 
murmur." Didache, iv. 

Thou shalt not turn away from the needy, but thou shalt 
share all things with thy brother ; and thou shalt not say that 

1 The Emperor Julian s well-known Letter to Arsacius is a good example. 
It is clear that charity did not restrict itself to the " Household of Faith." 
Cyprian and his congregation s action in the Great Plague of Carthage is a 
good example of this. See below, p. 127. 


they are thine own : for if ye are fellow partakers in that 
which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal." 
Didache, iv. 

Aristides circa A.D. 130-40 : 

They (the Christians) love one another, and from the 
widows they do not turn away their countenance, and they 
rescue the orphan . . . and he who has, gives to him who 
has not without grudging . . . and if they hear that any 
of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of 
their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs. . . . And 
if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and 
they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two 
or three days, that they may supply the needy with their 
necessary food." l Apol. xv. 

Hermas Shepherd circa A.D. 135-40 : 
You know that you, servants of God, dwell in a foreign 
land, for your city is far from this city. If, then, you know 
the city where you are to dwell, why provide your 
selves here with fields and costly luxuries ? He who 
makes such provision for this city has no mind to return 
to his own city. . . . Instead of fields, then, buy souls in 
trouble as each of you is able. Visit widows and orphans, 
and neglect them not ; expend on such fields and houses, 
God has given you your wealth and all your gains. The 
Master endowed you with riches that you might perform 
such ministries for Him. 

" Far better is it to buy fields, possessions, houses of this 
kind. Thou wilt find them in thine own city when thou 
dost visit it. Such expenditure is noble and joyous : it 
brings gladness, not fear and sorrow." Simil. i. 

Harnack, Mission, etc., of Christianity (book ii. chap, i.), 
commenting on this passage of the Shepherd, has an inter 
esting and suggestive Note, in which he says : " For all the 

1 The last clause is a very important one. It tells us that to the collections 
made in the assembly for the poor and needy, even the poorest artisan and 
slave contributed, and positively fasted for two or three days that they might 
save the necessary few coins to help those poorer and more sorrowful than 

On this beautiful act of Christian charity, see, too, such passages as Hermas 
Shepherd, Simil. hi. 


vigour of his counsel, however, it never occurs to Hermas 
that the distinction between the rich and the poor should 
cease within the Church. This is plain from the next Simili 
tude or Parable (ii.). The saying of Jesus, too, S. John 
xii. 8, The poor ye have always with you/ shows that the 
abolition of the distinction between rich and poor was never 
contemplated in the Church/ 

Hermas Shepherd. " Not hesitating as to whom you 
are to give or not to give, for God wishes His gifts to be shared 
by all." Comm. 2. 

" Rescuing the servants of God from necessities being 
hospitable, for in hospitality good doing finds a field."- 
Comm. 8. 

Polycarp Epistle (written early in the second century) : 

" In love of the brotherhood, kindly affectioned one to 
another . . . when ye are able to do good, defer it not, for 
pitifulness delivereth from death." Epistle, 10. 

A short sketch of the practical side of the teaching current 
at these meetings of the brethren will complete our descrip 
tion of these primitive Christian gatherings. The teaching 
dwelt on duties for the most part absolutely novel to the 
Roman world of the first and second centuries of our era. 
The inescapable duties pressed home to the listeners were 
duties generally quite unknown to noble, artisan, or slave 
in Roman society of the first three centuries. If carried out 
they would essentially change the old view of life current 
in all grades of the Roman world. 

As before, we draw our information exclusively from the 
remains of very early Christian letters (Epistles) and tractates 
of well-known and honoured teachers in the Brotherhood 
which have been preserved to us. 

The practical side of the teaching current in the gatherings 
was very largely based on the strange, beautiful, but per 
fectly novel saying of the Founder of the religion. It was, 
in fact, a new language which was used : 

" Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The instruc 
tions given in the early assemblies defined the term " neigh 
bour," and explained how the love enjoined was to be especi 
ally shown. 


Now in all the early Christian writings the persons to be 
helped in the first place seem invariably to have been " the 
widows and orphans " of the new Society ; for example, S. 
James, the Lord s disciple, writes how " pure religion and 
undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the father 
less and widow in their affliction," etc. (i. 27). 

Hermas circa A.D. 135-40 in his list of good deeds which 
ought to be done, after faith and the fear of the Lord 
love, concord, words of righteousness, truth, patience places 
"the helping widows, looking after orphans." -Shepherd, 
Comm. viii. 

Aristides circa A.D. 130-40 has been already quoted. 

Clement of Rome circa A.D. 90 gives as one of his quota 
tions : " He the Master of the Universe saith, . . . Give 
judgment for the orphan, and execute righteousness for the 
widows." / Epistle, 8. 

Lactantius circa last years of fourth century in his 
catalogue of the different kinds of benevolence and works of 
mercy which had especially been enjoined on Christians, twice 
dwells on this peculiar work, and then writes : " Nor is it less a 
great work of justice to protect and defend orphans and widows 
who are destitute and stand in need of assistance, and there 
fore that Divine Law prescribes this to all," etc. . . . And 
again : " For God, to whom everlasting mercy belongs, com 
mands that widows and orphans should be defended and 
cherished, that no one through regard and pity for his loved 
ones should be prevented from suffering death (i.e. martyr 
dom) " . . . " but should meet it with promptitude and faith, 
since he knows that he leaves his beloved ones to the care of 
God, and that they will never want protection." This last 
telling argument repeated by Lactantius had been, no doubt, 
frequently taught in the days of stress and trial. 

These very early references might be multiplied ; we find 
this injunction again and again repeated. It is no exaggera 
tion to assert that among the poor and sad-eyed ones placed 
before the congregations of believers to help, the poor widow 
and the orphan occupy the first place. 

The Sick. The visiting the sick and distributing the alms 
of the brethren, public and private, were also urged as an 


inescapable duty. This stood in the forefront of all their 
exhortations, and the injunction was ever generously responded 
to. To quote references here, where they are so very numer 
ous, would be superfluous. Lactantius words, in his summary 
above referred to, will suffice to show what was the mind of 
the Church, and how this wish of the Master s had been 
constantly urged. 

Justin Martyr has well summarized the loved duty 
" To undertake the care and support of the sick, who need 
some one to assist them, is the part of the greatest kindness, 
and is of great beneficence ; and he who shall do this, will 
both offer a living sacrifice to God, and that which he has 
given to another for a time he will himself receive from God 
for eternity."- Justin, vi. 12. 

So prominent a place did the giving of alms to the sick 
occupy among the exhortations addressed to the Christians of 
the first days, that the injunctions to succour the sick sufferers 
seem not infrequently to have been extended beyond the 
circle of the " Household of faith." We find S. Cyprian, for 
instance, on the occasion of the great plague of Carthage, 
A.D. 252, telling, in one of his addresses, his audience that to 
cherish our own people was nothing wonderful, but surely 
he who would become perfect must do more ; he must love 
even his enemies, as the Lord admonishes and expects. 

"It is our duty not to fall short of our splendid ancestry." 
In the saintly bishop s own grand untranslatable words 
" Respondere nos decet natalibus nostris." l The Christians 
of Carthage, as their reply, at once raised amongst them 
selves an abundant fund, and forming a company for the 
succour of the sick, absolutely helped all without any inquiry 
as to whether the sick sufferers were pagan or Christian. 
Pontius, Life of Cyprian. 

Eusebius (H. E. ix. 8) gives a pathetic picture of the 
great pestilence which raged at the end of the third century, 
and notices the devoted behaviour of the Christians to all 
the sick and dying, without reference to the sufferer s creed. 

This splendid altruism of the " Godless Galilean " was 

1 Archbishop Benson happily paraphrases Cyprian s words thus : Noblesse 
oblige. S. Cyprian, vi. i, 2. 


markedly referred to by the Emperor Julian " Not only 
their own poor, but ours do they care for," wrote the great 
Emperor ; " our poor lack our care," was his bitter reproach 
to paganism. Letter to Arsacius. 

Hospitality was another urgent recommendation pressed 
home by the early Christian teachers to their flocks. Clement 
of Rome (quoted above) in the first century dwells on this 
special virtue in his Letter to the Corinthian Church. 

The Didache circa end of first century dwells on this. 
" If he who comes is a traveller, help him to the best of your 
ability " (chap. xii.). 

Much is said in this very early treatise on the duty of caring 
for strangers, but care is specially enjoined to guard against 
any imposture here. 

Her mas in the Shepherd writes : " In hospitality, good-doing 
finds a field" (Comm. viii.). 

Aristides, quoted above, tells us how Christians " when they 
see the stranger, bring him to their dwellings, and rejoice 
over him as over a true brother." 

Justin Martyr (quoted above), in his picture of a Christian 
meeting on Sunday, especially directs that out of the alms 
contributed by the faithful, among those who were to be 
succoured were " the strangers sojourning amongst us." 
i A pol. Ixvii. 

Melito of Sardis so Eusebius, H. E. iv. 26, tells us wrote 
a treatise " on hospitality." 

Cyprian expressly directs that the expenses of any stranger 
who may happen to be in want, be paid out of certain moneys 
he had left for that purpose. Ep. vii. 

Among other direct references to this duty may be quoted 
Tertullian, ad Uxor. ii. 4, and the Apost. Constit. iii. 3 ; 
the Emperor Julian in his Letter to Arsacius wishes the 
pagans would imitate these Christian practices. 

This striking and unique custom, which no doubt very 
largely contributed to the feeling of Christian brotherhood, 
was, of course, based upon the directions so often repeated 
in the New Testament Epistles. 

" Be not forgetful to entertain strangers : for thereby 
some have entertained angels unawares," Heb. xiii. 2. " Dis- 


tributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality," 
Rom. xii. 13. " Use hospitality one to another, without 
grudging," i Pet. iv. 9. " Beloved, thou doest faithfully 
whatsoever thou doest to the brethren and to strangers," 
3 John 5, etc. 

This urgent recommendation to practise hospitality in 
the New Testament Epistles of Peter and Paul, of John 
and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, repeated with 
insistence and earnestness by writers of the second and third 
centuries, was, as Justin Martyr tells us in his picture of the 
Sunday gathering of Christians, incorporated among the 
special exhortations to the brethren urging them to generous 

The duty of " hospitality " thus pressed home at these 
gatherings as important enough to rank with the claims of the 
widow and the orphan and the sick poor, needs a few words of 

In the early days of Christianity it must be borne in mind 
that the widely extended world of Rome was not as in mediaeval 
and modern times, made up of different nations and peoples, 
but that the Roman world was all one, that men were fellow- 
subjects of one great Empire, and that the passing to and fro 
from land to land was far more common than in after times ; 
and that Christians, whether belonging to Asia or to Greece, 
to Italy or to Gaul, made up one great Brotherhood. 

For a Christian coming into a strange city to find there at 
once a home and a warm welcome, and if poor and needy, help 
and assistance, would constitute a very powerful inducement 
to very many to join the new Society in which lived such a 
spirit of loving brotherhood and kindness. 

Special means of intercourse through letters and messages 
and other means were provided. Caecilius in Minucius Felix 
(c. ix.), an early writing, as we have said, belonging to the middle 
of the second century or even earlier, especially tells us that 
" Christians recognize each other by means of secret marks and 
signs, and love one another almost before they are acquainted." 
It was to give effect to this far-reaching spirit of brother 
hood that the apostles and their successors insisted so 
earnestly upon the new and beautiful duty of " hospitality." 


It was a practical proof that all Christians were really brothers 
and sisters " that goodness among the Christians was not an 
impotent claim or a pale ideal, but a power which.was developed 
on all sides, and was actually exercised in common everyday 

We have dwelt at some length upon what were the principal 
objects to which the alms of the Brotherhoood, asked so earnestly 
at the various weekly assemblies, were devoted ; there were, 
however, other " causes " pleaded for besides these no doubt 
principally in such great centres as Rome, where a proportion 
of rich and well-to-do persons formed part of the little gather 
ings ; of these, relief and assistance to " prisoners of the faith " 
occupy a prominent place. 

There were many Christians, especially in the more acute 
periods of persecution, who were arrested and imprisoned by the 
government, and not a few condemned to the harsh discipline 
of the mines. Justin Martyr especially names assistance to 
imprisoned Christians as one of the regular objects to which a 
portion of the collections at the " meetings " was devoted. It 
was ever a matter of love, if not of absolute duty, to help and 
succour these. " If," wrote Aristides in his Apology quoted 
above, " the Christians learn that any one of their number is 
imprisoned or is in distress for the sake of the Name of Christ, 
they should all render aid to such a one in his necessity." 
Apol. xv. 

See, too, among other references, Heb. x. 34; Tert. ad 
Mart, i., and Apol. xxxix. 

Another and special object pi almsgiving pressed upon the 
faithful was help to other and perhaps distant Churches who 
from one cause or other were in want. We find this urged 
upon Christian congregations even in apostolic days. 

In S. Paul s Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, and 
Corinthians we find various appeals to the generosity of these 
early communities to assist the Church at Jerusalem. The 
deep poverty of this famous Church we have already suggested 
was probably owing to the attempt of the Jerusalem Christians 
literally to carry out the idea of community of goods. 

In the Letter of Dionysius of Corinth to the Roman Church 
written circa A.D. 170, quoted by Eusebius, H. E. iv. 23, we 


find this generosity referred to as a well-known custom of the 
comparatively wealthy Roman congregation. " From the very 
first," wrote Dionysius, " you have had this practice of aiding 
all the brethren in many ways, and of sending contributions 
to many Churches in every city ... by these gifts you keep 
up the hereditary custom of the Roman Christians, a practice 
which your bishop, Soter, has not only kept up, but even 
extended." In the third century, Dionysius, bishop of Alex 
andria, writing to Stephen, bishop of Rome, alludes to the 
generous help given to the poor Churches of Syria and Arabia. 
" To them," he says, " you send help regularly." Euseb. 
H. E. viii. 5. 

Ignatius, referring to this noble generosity of the Roman 
congregations as early as the first years of the second century, 
styles the Church of Rome as " the leader of love." 

Cyprian, in the middle of the third century, several times 
mentions how the Church at Carthage, evidently a wealthy 
community, was in the habit of sending help to other and 
needy communities. 

But there was one department in the novel teaching pressed 
home by the early Christian teachers which seems at once to 
have riveted the attention of the listeners, and its universal 
acceptance at once won extraordinary, possibly an undreamed 
of popularity in the Christian ranks. It was an entirely new 
departure from any custom prevalent in the world of Rome 
the injunction reverently to care for the bodies of the dead 

The Emperor Julian in his summary of what he considered 
the chief points in the hated Christian system which had won 
them so many hearts, especially calls attention to this. He 
wrote this remarkable comment here : 

" This godlessness (i.e. Christianity) is mainly furthered 
by its charity towards strangers, and its careful attention to the 
bestowal of the dead." Letter to Arsacius, in Soz. v. 15. 

Lactantius in his review of the Christian virtues urged 
by the great teachers of the new religion, and to a great extent 
practised in the early centuries, gives a prominent and detailed 
notice of this pious and loving custom, and strikingly writes 
as follows : " The last and greatest office of piety is the burying 


of strangers and the poor," adding that the noblest pagan 
teachers of virtue and justice had never touched at all upon 
this inescapable duty. These had left this, he adds, quite 
out, because they were unable to see any advantage in it. 

Some of these pagan teachers, he goes on to say, even 
esteemed burial as superfluous, adding that it was no evil to 
lie unburied and neglected. 

The great fourth century writer proceeds at some length 
to give some of the reasons which had influenced Christians 
so tenderly to care for their brethren who had fallen asleep : 
" We will not surfer the image and workmanship of God to 
lie exposed as a prey to beasts and birds, but we will restore 
it to earth from which it was taken ; and although it be in the 
case of an unknown person, we will supply the place of relatives, 
whose place, since they are wanting, let benevolence take." 
Lactantius, Inst. vi. 12. 

Aristides middle years of second century thus dwells 

upon the tender solicitude of the Christian folk for their dead : 

When one of their poor passes away from the world, one of 

them (the brethren) looks after him, and sees to his burial 

according to his means." Apol. xv. 

Aristides is here referring to the private charity of individ 
ual members of the community, which was often very lavish 
in the early centuries. Tertullian, on the other hand, writing 
on the same duty of caring for the brethren, includes the cost 
of " burying the poor " as coming out of the common fund 
made up of the money contributed at the public meetings of 
the Brotherhood. Apol. xxxix. 

As the amount required for these burials and the subse 
quent care bestowed on the places of Christian sepulture was 
very considerable, the public collections made in the assemblies 
were necessarily often largely supplemented by private alms. 

All this loving care for the remains of the deceased went 
home to numberless hearts among the survivors of the loved, 
and evidently ranked high among the reasons which attracted 
many into the ranks of the Christian Brotherhood. 

In our little picture of very early Christian life, Rome and 
its powerful Church has been generally selected as the scene of 
the life in question. In this primitive custom of reverent care 


for the dead, a care which embraced the very poor as well 
as the rich and well-to-do, we discern the reasons which led 
to the first beginnings of the vast city of the Christian dead, 
the wonderful city known as the Roman catacombs. This 
will be carefully described at some length in this work : the 
building and excavating of the endless corridors, the private 
chambers, the chapels and meeting-rooms, began even before 
the close of the first century of the Christian era, and went on 
for some two centuries and a half the long-drawn-out age 
of persecution. 

They constitute a mighty and ever-present proof of the 
accuracy of much that has been advanced in the foregoing pages 
on the subject of the life led of the hopes and ideals 
cherished among the disciples of Jesus in that first stage of 
anxious trial and sore danger. 

The pictures painted below in the chapters treating of 
the catacombs of Rome are admirable contemporary illustra 
tions of what the writings of Aristides, Tertullian, and Lac- 
tantius tell us of the solemn duty to the dead which was insisted 
upon with such touching eloquence to the primitive congrega 
tions of the faithful. 


THERE was ever present in these early assemblies of 
Christians one class of persons who had no rank, no 
place in Roman society, a class in which Cicero had 
declared that nothing great or noble could exist. Slavery 
has been well characterized as the " most frightful feature of 
the corruption of ancient Rome, and it extended through 
every class of the community." Economically, " the poor 
citizen found almost all the spheres in which an honourable 
livelihood might be obtained, wholly or at least in a very 
great part preoccupied by slaves." Morally, " the slave 
population was a hotbed of vice, and it contaminated all 
with which it came in contact." l 

Now what position did the slave occupy in early Christian 
society ? It is quite clear that the primitive Christians had 
no idea of abolishing slavery. It was part of the ancient 
society, and they accepted it even amongst themselves 
apparently made no effort to abolish it ; but the view they took 
of it in reality dealt a death-blow to the unhappy and miserable 
institution. It is true that whilst Christianity gradually 
modified its most painful and objectionable features by example 
and by precept, it was only after long, long years that it suc 
ceeded by a bloodless revolution to wipe away the awful curse 
" The mills of God grind slowly." 

But the New Testament simply directs slaves to be faithful 
and obedient. In the letter to Philemon, Paul never even hints 
at the release of the slave Onesimus, who was very dear to him. 
In i Cor. vii. 20, Paul urges every man to abide in the 
calling (i.e. the state of life or condition) in which he was when 
he was called to God ; and even advises the slave to be content 

1 Lecky, European Morals, chap, ii., " The Pagan Empire." 



to remain a slave even if the opportunity to become free 
presents itself ; for this is the interpretation which a chain of 
the best commentators gives to the words " use it rather." 
See, too, Eph. vi. 5-9 ; Tit. ii. 9 ; i Pet. ii. i8. 1 

The earliest Christian writings take the same view of the 
question of slavery as we find in the Epistles of Paul and Peter. 
So in the Didache we read : " Thou shalt not give directions 
when thou art in anger to thy slave or thy handmaid, who 
trust in the same God, lest perchance they shall not fear the 
Lord who is over you both ; for He cometh not to call men 
according to their outward position, but He cometh to those 
whom the Spirit hath made ready. And ye slaves, ye shall 
be subject to your masters as to God s image, in modesty 
and fear " (chap. iv.). 

Aristides writes as follows : " But as for their servants 
or handmaids, or their children if any of them have any, 
they (the Christians) persuade them to become Christians, 
for the love that they have towards them ; and when they 
have become so, they call them without distinction Brethren." 
ApoL, chap. xv. 

But although slavery as an institution 2 was left for the 
time virtually untouched, Christianity in its own circles 
worked an immediate and vast change in the condition of 
the slave : "It supplied a new order of relations, in which 
the relations of classes were unknown, and it imparted a new 
dignity to the servile classes." 

In the assemblies of the Christians of the first days on 
which we have been dwelling, the social difference between 

1 Slavery was not authoritatively condemned until the year of grace 1807. 
Lecky characterizes the action of Christian England here in the following 
eloquent words: " The unwearied, unostentatious, and inglorious crusade of 
England against slavery may probably be regarded as among the three or 
four perfectly virtuous acts recorded in the history of nations " (History of 
Morals, chap. i.). And even after 1807 it lived on an acknowledged and 
recognized institute of several countries. The terrible war which led to the 
slave abolition in the United States is still unforgotten even by this generation. 

2 Ozanam estimates the numbers of slaves in the first and second centuries 
of our era as amounting to half the population of the Empire. The estimate 
is no doubt exaggerated, but the numbers of the slave population in that 
period were undoubtedly very great. 

3 Lecky, History of European Morals, vol. ii. chap. iv. 


master and slave was quite unknown. They knelt side by 
side when they received the Holy Eucharist. They sat side 
by side as the instructions were given and the words of the 
Lord Jesus were expounded. Their prayers ascended to 
gether to the mercy-seat of the Eternal. While not unfre- 
quently a slave was promoted to be the teacher ; the highest 
offices in the congregation l were now and again filled by 
chosen members of the slave class. They suffered with their 
masters, and shared with them the glory of martyrdom. 

The Acts of the Martyred Slaves were read to the con- 
gegations of the faithful, and the highest honour and vener 
ation was paid to their memory. The slaves Blandina of 
Lyons, Felicitas of Carthage, Emerentiana of Rome the 
foster-sister of Agnes, the famous martyr are names 
which deservedly rank high in the histories of the early 
heroines of the Church. 

But although slavery was still recognized in the new Society 
which outwardly made no abrupt changes, which desired 
no sudden and violent uprooting in the old Society, a mar 
vellous change passed over the ordinary conception of the 

An extract from a letter of Paulinus of Nola to Sulpicius 
Severus, the disciple and biographer of S. Martin of Tours 
(circa the last years of the fourth century), will give some idea 
of the regard so largely entertained by Christian thinkers for 
the slave members of the community. Thanking Sulpicius 
for a young slave he had sent him, Paulinus of Nola> recog 
nizing in the slave an earnest and devout soul, writes to his 
friend as follows : " He has served me, and woe is me that 
I have allowed him to be my servant that he who was no 
servant of sin, should yet be in the service of a sinner ! Un 
worthy that I am, every day I suffered him to wash my feet ; 
and there was no menial duty he would not have performed 
had I allowed him, so unsparing was he of his body so watch- 

1 Hennas, the author of the famous Shepherd, belonged to the slave class. 
The Roman Bishop Pius, A.D. 142-157, was the brother of Hennas. The 
celebrated Bishop of Rome, Callistus, A.D. 218-222, had been a slave. 

" The first and grandest edifice of Byzantine architecture in Italy the 
Church of S. Vitale at Ravenna was dedicated by Justinian to the memory of 
a martyred slave." Lecky, History of European M orals, vol. ii. chap. iv. 


ful for his soul. Ah, it is Jesus Christ that I venerate in this 
young man ; for surely every faithful soul proceeds from 
God, and every humble man of heart comes from the very 
heart of Christ/ 1 

There is little doubt but that this authoritative teaching 
of the Christian masters in the matter of the perfect equality 
of the slave in the eyes of God, and the consequent tender 
and often loving treatment meted out to the Christian members 
of the despised and downtrodden class, gravely misliked the 
more thoughtful among the pagan aristocracy of Rome, and 
that this teaching and practice of Christians in the case of 
the vast slave class in the pagan Empire ranked high among 
the dangers which they felt threatened the existence of the 
old state of things. Grave considerations of this kind must 
have strongly influenced the minds of men like Pius and 
Marcus and their entourage, before they determined to carry 
out their bitter policy of persecution. 

The Romans of the old school could have well afforded 
to regard with comparative indifference the enfranchise 
ment of any number of Christian slaves. Freedmen, especi 
ally in the imperial household, were very numerous in the 
days of the Antonines. But the teaching that these slaves 
while still slaves were their brethren, and ought to be treated 
with love and esteem, was a new and disturbing thought in the 
Empire of the great Antonines. 

Lecky, in his History of European Morals (chap, iv.), 
has a fine passage in which he sums up the great features of 
the new movement of Christian charity, and its results on 
the world at large. It runs as follows : 

There is no fact of which an historian becomes more 
steadily or more painfully conscious than the great difference 
between the importance and the dramatic interest of the sub 
jects he treats. Wars or massacres, the horrors of martyrdom 
or the splendour of individual prowess, are susceptible of such 
brilliant colouring that with but very little literary skill they 
can be so portrayed that their importance is adequately real 
ized, and that they appeal powerfully to the emotions of the 

1 S. Paulinus of Nola to Sulpicius Severus, Ep. xxiii. 


reader. But this vast and unostentatious movement of 
charity, operating in the village hamlets and in the lonely 
hospital, staunching the widow s tears and following all the 
windings of the poor man s griefs, presents few features the 
imagination can grasp, and leaves no deep impression upon 
the mind. The greatest things are those which are most im 
perfectly realized ; and surely no achievements of the Christian 
Church are more truly great than those which it has effected 
in the sphere of charity. For the first time in the history 
of the world it has inspired many thousands of men and 
women, at the sacrifice of all worldly interests, and often 
under circumstances of extreme discomfort or danger, to 
devote their entire lives to the single object of assuaging the 
sufferings of humanity. It has covered the globe with count 
less institutions of mercy, absolutely unknown to the whole 
pagan world. It has indissolubly united in the minds of 
men the idea of supreme goodness with that of active and 
constant benevolence." 

The foundation stories of all this vast movement of charity 
and altruistic love were laid in the early years of Christianity. 

The assemblies the meetings together of the Christians 
of the first days constructed and developed, as we have seen, 
the laws of charity ; indicating the persons who were to be 
assisted, suggesting, too, the means and resources out of which 
the sufferers the forlorn and needy might be helped and 
comforted in life and in death. 

All that happened subsequently the mighty organizing 
work of great masters of charity, such as Basil of Cappadocian 
Caesarea, and later of members of the monastic orders was 
simply the development, the expansion, the application to 
individual needs of the primitive ordinances of the first days 
which we have been sketching out, ordinances all founded 
upon the advice, the injunctions, the commands which we 
find in early Christian writings such as the Didache, the 
ist Epistle of Clement of Rome, the Apology of Aristides, 
the Shepherd of Hermas, the writings of Justin Martyr 
and Minucius Felix, and a very little later in the more 
elaborate works of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and 
Tertullian, and repeated in the first half of the third century 


by eminent teachers such as Origen and Cyprian of Carthage ; 
all primarily based more or less exactly upon the words of 
the Lord Jesus and of His own immediate disciples. 

In the primitive assemblies of the Christian Brotherhood 
these things formed the groundwork of the instructions and 
exhortations of the teachers and preachers, and were united 
with the dogma of the Atonement, with the tidings of im 
mortality, the promises of bliss and eternal peace in the 
life beyond the grave. 

Entering into one of these early assemblies held in an upper 
chamber or courtyard of a wealthy Christian brother, or in 
one of those dark and gloomy chambers of the catacombs, 
" we step," as it has been well said, " into a whole world of 
sympathy and of love." 



BUT the rapt moments enjoyed by the men and women who 
met together in these primitive assemblies soon passed. 
The perfect realization of brotherhood, the sharing in 
the mystic Eucharist, the fervent prayers, the dwelling on the 
sunlit words of their Divine Master, the earnest and pressing 
injunctions to be generous in charity and almsgiving for 
the benefit of the forlorn and sick in their company, the 
feeling that the unseen presence of the Lord was all the while 
in their midst, all these things contributed to the joy and 
gladness which permeated each little assembly ; every one 
who assisted at one of these meetings could whisper in his 
or her heart the words of the " apostle " on the Mount of 
Transfiguration " Lord, it is good for us to be here." 

But when the gathering dispersed, a reaction must have 
quickly set in. From that atmosphere of sympathy, of love 
and hope, they passed at once into the cold, hard, busy world 
into family life into the workshop, the study, the barrack, 
and the Forum all coloured with permeated by that 
system of gross and actual idolatry which entered into every 
home, every trade and profession of the Roman Empire. 
What was to be their conduct ? how were Christians to behave in 
a world wholly given up to an idolatry they knew was false, and 
utterly hateful to the Lord whose presence they had just left ? 

The difficulties of a believer s life in the early Christian 
centuries must have been terrible ; and it must be borne in 
mind that these difficulties were not occasional, but of daily, 
almost of hourly occurrence. To enumerate a few : 

I. In the family, in domestic life. Consider the position of 
a Christian slave of a son or daughter of a wife in a pagan 



family. What scenes of strain and estrangement if one member 
was a Christian and the household generally clung to the old 
Roman religion ! The son or daughter might wish to be Christ s 
disciple, and yet shrink from " hating father and mother, 
brothers and sisters." What constant contests would the 
Christian have to endure what bitter reproaches what 
perpetual danger of giving way and so endangering the immortal 
soul ! What share could the Christian member of a pagan 
family take in the ordinary business and pleasures of the every 
day existence, to say nothing of the extreme peril to which a 
member of the sect would be constantly subject of being 
denounced as a Christian to the authorities, who were often 
too ready to listen to the informer ? 

2. In Trade. Many commercial occupations were 
more or less closely connected with idol-worship ; to say 
nothing of the makers and decorators of idol-images, a 
trade that manifestly was impossible for a Christian to be 
occupied in, there were hosts of artisans employed in the 
great arenas where the public games were held ; then, too, 
there were the actors the gladiators those engaged in the 
schools and training-homes of these. What were such persons 
to do? 

3. In the ordinary pleasures of the people in which such 
multitudes took the keenest delight, was the Christian to 
stand aloof from all these ? Was the Christian to attract a 
painful and dangerous notoriety by refusing to share in such 
dearly loved amusements, which with rare exceptions were 
positively hateful to every Christian s conscience ? 

4. Was the civil servant or the lawyer to abandon his calling 
in which the worship of and reverence for the gods of Rome 
played so prominent a part ? Was the soldier, or still more 
the officer of the Legions, to abandon his post and desert his 
colours, rather than acquiesce in the daily service and adoration 
of the gods of Rome. Was he to refuse to pay the customary 
homage to the awful Caesar, when the slightest disrespect or 
failure in homage to this sovereign master, who claimed the 
rank of Deity, would be construed into treason and dis 
loyalty ? 

5. Education. Could a Christian still continue to be a 


teacher of the young, seeing that in all the manuals of educa 
tion a knowledge of the old gods still worshipped in Rome 
their myths, their prowess, their various attributes was 
carefully taught ? The very festivals and sacred days had to 
be carefully observed by them, since it was by means of these 
the teachers fees were reckoned. 

All such and many other like questions had to be considered 
and weighed by the Christian converts living in the world of 
Rome. Very thorny and rough was the path which had to 
be travelled by every earnest Christian in his way through 

A striking and eloquent apologia for or explanation of the 
reasons which guided many of the early Christian teachers to 
advocate a certain feeling of toleration in various circumstances 
of everyday life may be quoted here : 

" The (Roman) Empire was originally developed quite 
apart from Christianity under the shadow of the worship of 
the old false gods. Everything in it bore the stamp of idolatry. 
Its laws and its customs, first framed by patricians who were 
at once priests and lawgivers, then consolidated by Emperors 
who ranked first and foremost as sovereign pontiffs of the 
idol- worship, everything was coloured with and permeated 
by polytheism. Art Letters private customs all were 
pagan. There was no public monument but was placed under 
the guardianship of some heathen deity. No poem was 
composed without special reference to an idol god ; no feast 
began without a libation to an idol ; no household omitted 
the inescapable duty which directed that a sacred fire should 
burn before the household gods (Lares). Thus absolutely 
independent of Christianity, such a civilization must needs be 
intensely hostile to the new faith, and its hostility never 
faltered one instant. Differing here from the fixed rule of 
universal toleration, Roman society from the very first dis 
played towards Christianity the bitterest contempt insulting 
treatment persecution. The religion of Jesus grew up and 
spread under circumstances of general ignominy and hatred 
. . . living in such a highly civilized community mighty 
and indeed all-powerful the Church of Christ destroyed 


nothing, adopted everything, quietly correcting, gently chang 
ing and reforming everything, graving the Cross of its Founder 
on all the institutions of pagan Rome ; breathing its inspiration 
by degrees into all its laws and customs." l 

*De Broglie, Revue des deux mondes, ist Nov. 1852, reproduced in his 
L Eglise et V Empire Romain, vol. i., Avertissement, ii-iii. 



THE members of the Christian Brotherhood were not left 
without guidance as to their behaviour in the world 
of Rome. There were two schools among the Christian 
teachers of authority in the primitive Church. 

The one which we will term the school of " Rigourists " 
or " ascetics " found a brilliant and able exponent in the stern 
African Father, Tertullian, who taught and wrote in the latter 
years of the second and the earlier years of the third centuries. 
From the burning and impassioned words of this famous 
African teacher we can form a generally accurate idea of what 
was taught and pressed home in the school of " Rigourists." 

No compromise was ever suggested by these hard, stern 
teachers no " via media " was even hinted at. 

The artisan must forsake his calling if it even was connected 
in the most remote degree with idol worship, 1 with the games 
loved of the people, with anything which appeared antagon 
istic to any of the Master s commands. These words must be 
understood in their strict literal sense, and must be obeyed. 

The soldier must abandon his colours, the civil servant 
his profession. The slave must at all risks refuse his obedi 
ence when that obedience involved acquiescence in any form 
of idolatry. The Christian wife, the son or daughter in a 
pagan family, must gently but firmly decline to share even 
in the formal ancestral worship, or to be present at the public 
games of the arena, or the performances in the theatre. In 
their dress and ornaments, in their very language, in their 
hours of play and work, they must hold themselves aloof. 

1 See, for instance, Tert. De Idolat. viii., where the various trades connected 
with idols and temples are enumerated. 


We may picture to cursives how in many a pagan household, 
in the Forum, in the army and civil service, gentle, pitying 
men and women would be found who would shield and shelter 
these seemingly fanatical and earnest adherents of a despised 
religion ; but in many cases there would be no loving, pitying 
ones who would strive to throw a kindly veil over what seemed 
to them such strange, such unpatriotic and even disloyal 
conduct. Then would assuredly follow arrest imprisonment 
exile the deadly mines, where the condemned toiled in 
a hopeless, dreary captivity. Not unfrequently torture and 
death would be the guerdon of the devoted Christian under 
circumstances of awful pain and mortal agony. 

It is out of this class that the martyrs mostly came. It 
was to embolden and encourage these that the little known 
"Schools of Martyrdom" were formed, where very earnest Chris 
tians were trained to endure all and suffer for the Name s sake. 1 

The ascetics, however, were in the minority. There was 
another school in the primitive Church, strict certainly in its 
instructions, but more ready to make allowances ; less un 
compromising in its views of the everyday Christian life ; 
less literal in its interpretation of the Divine Master s words. 

This gentler and more practical school is well represented 
in the works still preserved to us of several of the great teachers 
of early Christianity. A very conspicuous example of this 
school of teaching is the famous Dialogue put together by 
the North African Latin writer, Minucius Felix. The gener 
ally received date of the writing is circa A.D. 160, in the reign 
of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus. It is a work of peculiar 
charm. One scholar terms it "a golden Book " ; another 
(Renan) styles it " the pearl of Apologetic literature." 

It is cast in the form of a dialogue held by three persons 
on the then beautiful seashore of Ostia. The speakers are real 
historic characters of some rank and position in the Roman 
world in the middle years of the second century. The argu 
ments adduced by the pagan Caccilius are supposed to be a 
reproduction of a lost work of Fronto, the tutor and friend 
of the Emperor Marcus. The refutation of Octavius the 
wealthy Christian merchant, which follows and which con- 

1 On these " Schools of Martyrdom," see below, p. 198 foil. 


vinced Caecilius of the truth of the new faith, is the principal 
piece in the work and the part to which reference is specially 
made here, and it admirably voices many of the views of 
the second and gentler school of early Christianity. The 
criticism of Renan on the view of Christianity taken by 
Octavius is striking, and fairly accurate. It is, he says, " the 
conception of the new religion of amiable advocates wishful 
to enrol in the Christian ranks, men of culture and position. 
Such men as the Octavius of the Dialogue would never have 
written the Gospels or the Apocalypse ; but, on the other 
hand, without such liberal interpreters, the Gospels, the Apoc 
alypse, and the Epistles of Paul would have never penetrated 
beyond the circle of a narrow sect, and in the long run the 
sect of Christians would have disappeared." " Minucius 
Felix," the great French writer, goes on to say, " repre 
sented in those early years the preacher of Notre Dame (in 
Paris) in our own time, addressing men of the world." l 

Christianity, in the eloquent presentment of Octavius, by 
no means requires the believer to put aside the philosophers 
and pagan writers whose works he admired. In the argument 
of Octavius, Christian teaching lives in the pages of Aristotle 
and Plato. He points out with rare skill and ingenuity that 
the new religion makes no claim on men to give up their callings 
and professions ; for instance, advocates like Minucius, the 
author of " the Dialogue," never dream, save in times of vaca 
tion, of leaving the Forum the scene of their life-work. Chris 
tians, like other men, busy themselves with the same occupa 
tions ; so society may surely accept them without any scruples. 
The cultivation of Art the study of Letters are by no means 
incompatible with the profession of Christianity. The religion 
of Jesus uses all these things, and using them sanctifies them. 

Eminent teachers, such as Clement of Alexandria at 
the close of the second century in his Pcedagogus, give 
directions to believers to enable them to live a Christian life 
in the world. Origen, in many respects a " Rigourist," is 
far from emulating Tertullian in his stern denunciations and 
warnings ; and even such men as the saintly Cyprian, who 
closed his beautiful life by a voluntary martyrdom, shows 

1 See Renan, Marc-Aur&le, chap. xxii. 


by his own example that there were even times and seasons 
when a Christian by flight might rightly avoid arrest and 
suffering for the Name s sake. 

In this gentler, more acommodating school it was clear that 
heathen art was not forbidden. The decoration of even the 
earlier sepulchral chambers in the Roman catacombs plainly 
indicates this freedom. 

That this policy of the gentler school of early teaching, 
which countenanced, perhaps suggested, many allowances, 
especially in matters of purely ceremonial idolatry, was adopted 
by the majority of believers, is clear from the numbers of 
Christians who we know lived in the imperial court, served in 
the army, and occupied positions in the civil service. 

For instance, in the imperial court, in the days of S. Paul, 
we meet with salutations from Christians in Caesar s household 
(Phil. iv. 22). 

The well-known "graffito" on the Palatine, of the cari 
cature of a crucifix, is an indication that there were Christians 
among the imperial pages in the reign of Marcus, 1 A.D. 161-80. 

Irenaeus (iv. 30) in the last quarter of the second century 
expressly writes as follows : " And what of those who in the 
royal palace are believers ? 

Marcia, the favourite of Commodus, if not a Christian, 
was more than kind to the Christian sect ; that many Chris 
tians were in her circle is certain. Even Tertullian testifies 
(Apol. xxxvi.) to the fact that there were Christians in the 
palace of the Emperor Septimius Severus, A.D. 193-212. 

In the court of Alexander Severus (A.D. 222-35) were 
many Christians ; and it has been supposed, not without some 
reason, that the Emperor himself was secretly a believer. 

Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (quoted in Euseb. H. E. 
vii. 10), writing of the favourable disposition of the Emperor 
Valerian towards Christians in the earlier part of his reign, 
A.D. 253, says : " All his house (court) was filled with pious 
persons ; it was indeed a congregation of the Lord." 

In the first part of Diocletian s reign, A.D. 284-96, the 
court of Nicomedia was in great measure composed of Chris- 

1 Some put this graffito a little later, perhaps in the days of Alexandei 
Severus, A.D. 222-35. 


tians ; the wife and daughter of the Emperor were 

From this chain of references to the presence of Christians 
in the imperial court from the days of S. Paul to the latter 
years of the third century, we are compelled to conclude that 
large allowances on the part of the Emperor were not unfre- 
quently made to the sect, and even that not a few concessions 
outwardly to take part in the ceremonies of official paganism 
must have been allowed to the Christian courtier all through 
the period when Christianity was an unlawful and forbidden 

In the army a similar spirit of mutual allowance and con 
cession must have been often shown. It is clear that from the 
very first there were not a few Christian soldiers in the 
Legions. There must have been many cases in which the 
superior officers connived at the scruples of Christian soldiers ; 
while, on the other hand, the Christian Legionary must have 
consented generally to share in the more public and official 
ceremonies in which the old worship of the gods was inextric 
ably mixed up. Nowhere were the difficulties, however, for 
believers more acute than in the army, and the slightest ill-will 
or pagan bigotry on the part of the superior officer made the 
position of a Christian soldier absolutely untenable even when 
the soldier belonged to what we have termed the gentler and 
more accommodating school of Christian teaching. Martyrs 
in the army, it has been noticed, were relatively more numerous 
than in the civil callings. 1 

The civil service contained undoubtedly many Christians 
in the early centuries of the era ; see Aristides (Apol. xv.), who, 
writing of Christians, says : " Where they are judges they judge 
righteously." Tertullian refers to the presence of Christians 

1 The well-known recital of the martyrdom of S. Maurice and of the Theban 
Legion, whether it be accepted as absolutely genuine or not, is an admirable 
instance of the ever-present dangers and difficulties of a Christian soldier of 
the Empire. The scene of the terrible and wholesale martyrdom was Agaunum 
(S. Maurice), some nine miles distant from Octodurus (Martigny) in the 
Canton of Valais, and the date was circa A.D. 292-6. Maximian was then 
reigning as colleague of Diocletian. The authenticity of the story is main 
tained by Ruinart, who includes it in his Acta Sincera ; by Tillemont, and in 
our days by Allard, who, however, cuts down the Legion to a cohort. Harnack, 
on the other hand, and others doubt its authenticitv. 


in all ranks, and states how " they could be found in the 
palace, in the Senate, and in the Forum " (Ad. Nat, i. i and 
Apol. i.). Cyprian, Ep. Ixxx. i, and other early authorities 
could be quoted here. Eus. H. E. viii. i, specially mentions 
how provinces were occasionally ruled by Christian governors, 
and calls attention to a Phrygian city whose whole population 
including officials were Christians. He was writing of the last 
years of the third century. Such Christian officials must have 
had great allowances made to them, and they must have often 
availed themselves of the licence permitted to believers on the 
occasion of purely State ceremonials, which were literally per 
meated with references to the old State religion. 

Instances and examples from the Old Testament books 
were adduced by the teachers of the gentler school of Christian 
life in support of the allowances made to believers to retain 
their court appointments and civil service offices, and to carry 
on their professions in spite of the idolatrous associations 
connected with these offices and callings. 

Great saints such as Daniel revered patriarchs such as 
Joseph had been ministers of mighty idol-worshipping 
sovereigns, and must have been present at and given a cer 
tain countenance to official pagan ceremonies. Naaman, the 
eminent servant of the King of Syria, after he had accepted 
the worship of the God of Israel, even asked the great prophet 
Elisha permission to accompany his royal master into the 
temple of the god Rimmon, and to pay obeisance to the Syrian 
idol on State occasions ; and asked that he might be forgiven 
for this apparent act of idolatry. In reply, Elisha simply 
bade him " go in peace " (2 Kings v. 18-19). 

But in spite of these kindly allowances, these gentler 
rules and directions, the condition of Christians, even for 
those, and they certainly were in the majority, who followed 
the teaching of the more kindly and lenient school, was very 
hard and difficult. In the family life in public life, the 
searchings of heart of a true believer must have been often 
very acute and distressing, and their position most precarious ; 
and in those times when a wave of pagan fanaticism swept 
over the imperial court, the province, or the city, no maxims 
of earthly prudence and caution, however carefully followed 


out, would have been able to save them from prosecution ; 
and prosecution was invariably followed by the breaking 
up of their homes, by rigorous imprisonment, confiscation of 
their property, loss of rank and position, too often by torture 
and death. 

To turn once more to the sterner and smaller school of 
" Rigourists," for these, after all, were " les ames d elite " 
of the Christians in the first three centuries ; in later times 
such men and women possibly were termed fanatics, they 
have been often branded as wild and unpractical persons ; 
but it was to these heroic souls after all that in great measure 
Christianity owed its final victory. 

The wonderful and rapid spread of Christianity notice 
able after the Milan toleration Edict of Constantine, A.D. 
313, has often been commented upon with surprise. From 
being a persecuted and despised cult, Christianity became, 
long before the fourth century had run its course, the religion 
of the Empire ; it had previously gained evidently the hearts of 
the people in well-nigh all the provinces of the mighty Empire. 

Now no imperial edicts no mere favour and patronage 
of the Emperor and his court, could ever have won for Chris 
tianity that widespread and general acceptance among the 
people so noticeable within fifty years of the Milan proclama 
tion of Constantine. 1 Something more was needed. For 
a little over two hundred years the Christians had been 
sowing the seeds of a new and nobler view of life " it had 
gradually taught the supreme sanctity of love it had pre 
sented an ideal destined for centuries to draw around it all 
that was greatest as well as all that was noblest on earth ; 
and one great cause of its success was that it produced more 
heroic actions and formed more upright men than any other 
creed. . . . Noble lives crowned by heroic deaths were the 
best arguments of the infant Church." 

1 The edicts favourable to Christianity were quietly received, even approved, 
in many places warmly welcomed ; and vast and ever increasing numbers of 
the population, hitherto pagans, joined the Christian communities. 

The enormous and seemingly sudden increase in the number of Christians 
in the Roman Empire in the latter years of the third and in the fourth centuries, 
is a problem which even now is something of a mystery to some historians. 

2 See Lecky, Hist, of Morals, chap. hi. 


There is no doubt but that a deep impression had been 
gradually made upon the masses (i.e. the people generally 
of the Empire) by the undaunted behaviour under suffering, 
of the confessors in the two centuries which followed the 
death of Peter and Paul ; and this impression was deepened 
by the events connected with the last terrible persecution of 
Diocletian. The extent of this last onslaught, the awful 
severity of its edicts, the fearful thoroughness with which 
these edicts were carried out, the numbers, the constancy 
and brave patience of the confessors, went home to the hearts 
of the indifferent ; it affected even the enemies of the Church, 
and brought about a complete revulsion of feeling towards 
the once hated and despised sect. 

And it must be remembered that the examples of the 
marvellous endurance of suffering, the constancy, the brave 
patience, the heroic deaths, were drawn in a vast majority 
of conspicuous cases from the school of Rigourists, from that 
company of men and women of intense, perhaps of exag 
gerated earnestness, who listened to and obeyed the burning 
words of a Tertullian or an Hippolytus, rather than to the 
gentler counsels of a Minucius Felix and the teachers who 
pointed out to Christians a way of living in the world which 
only rarely required such tremendous sacrifices as home 
and family, career and profession, even life itself things 
very dear to men. 

Surely no just historian would dare to speak slightingly 
of these splendid lives of utter sacrifice of self, when he re 
flects on the power which such lives have exercised over their 
fellow-men. The debt which Christianity owes to this stern 
school of Rigourists is simply measureless. 

In the last half of the third century there arose a Christian 
poet the first great song-man who had appeared since the 
famous singers of the Augustan age had passed away. The 
popularity of Prudentius has been enduring ; for centuries in 
many lands his striking and original poems have been read 
and re-read. Among his poems the most eagerly sought after 
have been the hymns descriptive of and in praise of the martyrs 
for the " Name s " sake. These loved poems are known as 
" Peri-Stephanon "the Book of the (Martyrs ) Crowns. 


It is the halo of glory surrounding these martyrs or con 
fessors that especially strikes the historian. We see in these 
popular poems what a profound, what a lasting impression 
the sufferings of the martyrs had made on the peoples of the 
Roman Empire. The saint-sufferers, men or women, became 
soon an object of something more than reverence. 

The heroic personages of Prudentius belong to no one 
land, to no solitary nationality. Nowhere was the truth of 
the well-known saying that " the blood of the martyr was the 
seed of the Church " more conspicuously exemplified than in 
the songs of Prudentius. It has been remarked with great 
force and truth that in the burning lilts of this great Spanish 
poet of the later years of the fourth century, we must 
perforce recognize something more than the inspiration of a 
solitary individual. We seem to hear in his impassioned 
words the echoes of the voice of the people. 1 

1 Prudentius does not stand alone as voicing the opinions of the people. 
A contemporary of his Paulinus of Nola although far behind Prudentius 
in genius, was a poet of considerable power. This Paulinus, a person of 
high dignity and of great wealth, when still comparatively young, withdrew 
from the world and devoted himself to religion ; he has left behind him a 
collection of poems, which he wrote annually on the occasion of the Festival 
of S. Felix, a martyr in whose honour he erected a basilica. His poems, of 
which some 5000 lines have been preserved, contain many vivid pictures 
illustrative of the popular aspect of Christianity in the latter years of the 
fourth century. He loves to dwell on the intense devotion of the people to the 
memory of the martyr whom he loved, S. Felix of Nola. and tells us of the 
crowds of pilgrims visiting his shrine. 

Damasus, bishop of Rome, A.D. 366-84, whose many and elaborate 
works of restoration of the Roman catacombs are dwelt on in trie section 
of this work treating of the great City of the Dead, beneath the suburbs 
of Rome, bears a similar testimony to the widespread devotion of the people 
to the memory of the martyrs of the days of persecution. His elaborate 
works in the catacombs were all designed for the convenience of the vast 
crowds of pilgrims, in the second half of the fourth century, from many 
lands to the shrines where the remains of the more famous martyrs had been 



SUCH was the life of a Christian for nearly two hundred and 
fifty years after the deaths of Peter and Paul at Rome. 
For all, as we have urged, even for the majority who 
were disciples of the gentler, less exacting school of teaching, 
but who generally accepted the yoke and burden of Christ, 
the life must have been very hard and difficult, at times even 
full of danger ; while for some, i.e., for the disciples of the 
school of " Rigourists," so hard so austere so full of name 
less perils, that men now can scarcely credit that any could 
really have lived so difficult, so painful a life could have 
listened to and striven in real earnest to obey such rules 
as the great Rigourist master, Tertullian, laid down for the 
faithful ; as, for instance : 

" Fast because rigid fasting is a preparation for martyr 
dom ; tortures will have no material to work on ; your dry 
skins will better resist the iron claws ; your blood, already 
exhausted, will flow less freely." x 

" Women, shun the marriage bond. To what purpose 
will you bear children, seeing you are longing to be taken 
out of this sinful world, and you are desirous to send your 
children before you 2 (to glory)." 

Ye women (take heed how you adorn yourselves), for I 
know not how the wrist that is accustomed to the (gemmed) 
bracelet will endure the roughness of the chain. I know 
not how the leg that has rejoiced in the golden anklet will 
endure the harsh restraint of the iron fetters. I fear the 
neck hung round with a chain of pearls and emeralds will 

1 Tertullian, On Fasting, 12. 2 Tertullian, To his Wife, 5. 


leave scanty room for the sword of the executioner." 
" Dear sisters, let us meditate on hardships, then when 
they come to us we shall not feel them ; let us give 
up luxuries and we shall not regret them ; for Christians 
now, remember, pass their time not in gold, but in iron. 
At this moment are the angels weaving for you robes of 
martyrdom." 1 

But in return for all this, Christianity offered much in 
truth, a splendid guerdon for the life of sacrifice. In the first 
place, the Christian was delivered from the dread spectre which 
constantly haunted the life of the pagan the fear of death. 
Throughout life, sleeping and waking, to the pagan of all ranks 
and orders, death was an enemy. What the men of the pagan 
Empire in the early Christian centuries felt in respect of the 
great universal foe what they thought of it is well shown 
in the epitaphs on the pagan tombs of the first, second, and 
third centuries. 2 

Complete freedom from this ever-present dread was the 
immediate reward received by the believer : so far was death 
from being an enemy, that to the Christian it appeared as the 
best and most longed for friend. Again and again the Church 
was compelled to restrain rather than to encourage candidates 
for martyrdom. From Paul, who wrote how " he desired to 
depart and be with Christ, which was far better " (Phil. i. 23) ; 
from Ignatius, whose passionate desire for a martyr s death 
appears and reappears, in his Letter to the Romans, in such 
words as " it is good for me to die for Jesus Christ, rather than 
to reign over the farthest bounds of the earth " ; " Suffer me 
to receive the pure light when I come thither, then I shall 
be a man indeed " ; " Let me be an imitator of the passion 
of my God " (To the Romans, vi.) ; from the thousand 
epitaphs in the catacomb tombs, which we can still read, 
we gather this knowledge the absolute freedom of the 
Christian from that fear of death which weighed so heavily 
upon all pagan society. 

The very expressions used by the disciples of the first 

1 Tertullian, On Female Dress, xi. 13. 

2 Examples of these are given below ; see p. 313 of this work. 


centuries when speaking of the dread enemy, 1 bear curious 
witness to the new relation of the believer to the ancient foe 
of man ; they spoke of death as " a passage into life " as 
" a sleep." The spot where the dead were laid was now 
termed " a cemetery " " a place of sleeping " ; burial was 
called " depositio " the body laid up as it were in trust. 

Cyprian the saintly, the martyr Bishop of Carthage, well 
voices the feelings of Christians in the matter of death the 
friend : 2 " Let us think what we mean when we speak of the 
presence of Christ (after death), of the increasing hosts of our 
friends, the loved, the reverenced, the sainted who are there. 
Cyprian cannot even mourn the departed he only misses 
them as friends gone on a long journey. He is unable to 
bear the putting on black garments of mourning, in memory 
of those who wear the fadeless white. " Put the terror of 
death quite away think only of the deathlessness beyond." 
" Let us greet the day which gives to each of us his own 
country . . . which restores us to paradise. Who that has 
lived in foreign lands would not hasten to go back to his own 
country ? . . . We look on paradise as our country." 

The wondrous joy which came to the Christian in the assem 
blies we have been picturing the fact of the new Brother 
hood the feeling of the presence of the Master in their midst, 
watching over them has been already dwelt upon at some 

The blessed consciousness of the forgiveness of all sin, the 
knowledge that in repentance and in prayer they could ever 
wash anew their scarred robes white in the blood of the Lamb, 
was a source of perpetual and ever-recurring joy to the earnest 
Christian. The doctrine of the atonement ever would give 
them constant comfort and confidence in all the difficulties 
and dangers of common everyday life Though their sins 
were as scarlet they would become white as snow," was an 
ancient Hebrew saying of Isaiah. It was one of the precious 
treasures inherited by the Christian from the Jewish Church. 
And in the sorely harassed and tempted life of the world of 

1 Some of the more remarkable of these are quoted in Book IV. pt. iii. 
(pp. 309-312). 

a On " the Mortality," i.e. the plague of Alexandria, 20-24. 


Rome the words would be often repeated by the believers, 
with the new striking Christian addition " when washed in 
the blood of the Lamb," and the memory of the beautiful 
saying would ever supply fresh courage for the conflict. 

Perhaps the most powerful and sustaining of all the 
Christian beliefs, the one that never for an instant was absent 
from their thoughts, was the hope aye, more than hope, the 
certainty that bliss indescribable awaited the soul of the 
happy redeemed the moment it quitted the body " To-day 
shalt thou be with me in paradise" a wonderful promise, 
indeed, of the Redeemer, which must have brought ineffable 
sweetness and repose into thousands of storm-tossed hearts, 
a promise which must have made up for many a hard and 
painful struggle. The life so hard and difficult so full of 
dangers and perplexities would soon come to an end, and 
then at once the beatific vision would be their guerdon, and 
rest and peace and joy would be the portion of the redeemed 
souls for ever. 

Our picture of the inner life of the Christian in the early 
Christian centuries would be incomplete were we not to allude 
to the influence, perhaps scarcely recognised but ever at work, 
of portions of the " Revelation " of S. John. Holding, of course, 
in the teaching of the Christian masters a very different posi 
tion to the Gospels, which, of course, formed the authoritative 
basis of all Christian instruction, the " Revelation " occupied 
a peculiar and singularly influential place in the thoughts of 
the early harassed believers. 

Many of the more mystical and obscure sections of that 
wonderful composition which was very generally accepted as the 
work of the beloved apostle, we may assume were little dwelt 
upon either in public teaching or in private meditation ; the 
mystic prophecies of the seer were, comparatively speaking, but 
little read, and received then as now different interpretations ; 
but interspersed with these prophecies, and not necessarily 
connected with them, occur passages of surpassing beauty, in 
which pictures of the heaven-life are painted by no mortal 
hand. It was these which arrested the imagination, and found 
a home in many a Christian heart. The passages which 


contained these pictures were no doubt repeated again and 
again by lonely harassed men and women in the silent watches 
of the night, in the public worship, in the study chamber, 
especially in the hour of danger and trial. 

The hope of a glorious eternity was vividly painted in 
several remarkable passages of S. John s great Vision of Heaven 
and the future things. The disciples of the sterner school, 
who were trained so to speak for martyrdom, felt themselves 
specially addressed when the Seer told his vision of the thrones 
and of those who sat on them, they would occupy the place of 
the souls of those who had been slain for the witness of Jesus 
(Rev. xx. 4) ; and again they would call to mind that when the 
Seer asked who were these arrayed in white robes, and whence 
came they ? he was told that these were they which came out 
of great tribulation, and who have washed their robes and 
made them white in the blood of the Lamb ; and that therefore 
were they before the throne of God, and that from their 
eyes God would wipe away all tears (Rev. vii. 13-17). 

To the disciples of the gentler school, too, words of immortal 
hope were spoken often in the same Book which spoke as no 
writing of earth had ever spoken before of the heaven-life. 
The Seer heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and 
said how blessed they were which are called to the marriage- 
supper of the Lamb ; and the same Seer heard how there 
should be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying ; and 
again repeated the glorious promise that His servants (all 
His servants) should see His face, and that they should reign 
for ever and ever (Rev. xix. 6, 9, xxi. 4, xxii. 4, 5). 

Moreover, they read and pondered over that most beautiful, 
most exhaustive promise made to all His faithful servants, 
not only to the martyr band, " Blessed are they that wash 
their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree 
of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city (of God)." 
(Rev. xxii. 14, REVISED VERSION). 

These and many other like sunlit sayings of the Book of 
Life in the Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation of S. John were 
ever ringing in the ears of the Christians of the first days, and 
telling them of the immortal hope which was their blessed 


treasure, words which sweetened their hard and too fre 
quently painful lot, which made them feel that they had made 
a good exchange when they gave up the fleeting and often 
sinful pleasures of earth for the sure hope of the immortal 
joys of heaven. They felt how poor and tawdry after all were 
the things they had renounced in comparison with what 
awaited them when the short and weary period of human life 
came to an end. 

In spite of what the believers renounced for the Name s 
sake, notwithstanding the many daily trials and dangers to 
which they were ever exposed, they were strangely happy 
with a new happiness quite unknown in the old pagan world, 
with a joy no man could take from them. Pagan society, 
whenever it deigned to notice them, treated them with a con 
temptuous pity, which too often shaded into positive hatred. 
We see this in the " Acts " of the Martyrs from the questions 
put to them by the Roman officials when they were brought 
before the tribunals, simply because they were Christians. 
This was the estimate of the sect entertained by men like 
the great Antonine Emperors, Pius and Marcus. The summary 
of Fronto the famous rhetorician, Marcus tutor and friend, 
reproduced in the discourse of Caecilius in the Dialogue of 
Minucius Felix, repeats too clearly the same disparaging view 
coloured with contempt and scarcely veiled hatred. 

Nowhere is the pagan conception of the, misery and wretch 
edness of the Christian life more clearly expressed than 
in the picturesque and graphic poem of Rutilius Namatianus, 1 
a contemporary of Paulinus of Nola in the first years of the 
fifth century. 

It is a comparatively late pagan criticism of Christian 
ity, but it admirably expresses the common view of pagan 
society, and exactly coincides with the opinion of such 
eminent Romans as Marcus and his friend Fronto in the 
second century. 

1 This Rutilius was a Gallic gentleman of high position who had filled 
important offices at Rome, and had become a Senator. His undisguised 
opinion of the Christian sect appears in a graceful poem descriptive of a sea- 
trip from Rome (Ostia probably) to South Gaul. The work in question was 
composed circa A.D. 416. 


" Is there any sense," writes Rutilius, " in living a 
wretched life for fear of becoming unhappy ? these Christians 
love to torture themselves : they are more cruel even than the 
offended gods. I ask the question, has not the sect the secret 
of poisons more deadly than any possessed by Circe ; for Circe 
only brought about a danger in the body, but these people 
change the very soul ? " 

The life of a Christian in the first two hundred and fifty 
years of the era was, however, as we have shown, emphatically 
no sad and mournful, no wretched existence. It was a life 
unspeakably bright and happy, undreamed of by any poet or 
philosopher in the many-sided story of paganism. 



- < 



A.D. 64-A.D. 180 

THERE is really no doubt but that in the period of which 
we are writing in this Third Book, roughly stretching 
over some hundred and sixteen years, with very short 
intervals of comparative stillness, the Christian sect constantly 
lived under the veiled shadow of persecution ; the penalties 
exacted for the confession of the Name were very severe the 
confessors were ever exposed to confiscation of their goods, 
to harsh imprisonment, to torture, and to death. 

This state of things, which existed in the Church in Rome 
and in all the communities of Christians, is disclosed to us not 
merely or even principally in the Acts of Martyrs, which for 
this very early period are comparatively few in number, and, 
with a few notable exceptions, of questionable authority, but 
largely from the fragments of contemporary Christian writings 
of undoubted authenticity which have come down to us. 1 

These fragments, for several of these writings are but 
fragments, represent a somewhat considerable literature, and 
they may be looked upon as descriptive of much of the life 
led by Christians during these hundred and sixteen years, 2 the 

1 The testimony of the Roman catacombs here is also very weighty. See 
Book III. part iii., where the numbers of martyrs and confessors buried in the 
catacombs are especially dwelt on. 

-In this Third Book, where the question of the persecutions to which 



period when the religion of Jesus was gradually but rapidly 
taking root in the world of Rome. With one notable excep 
tion the writings to which we refer issued from the heart of 
the New Sect. 

We shall give a chain of some of the more striking passages 
from the fragments of the works in question, the passages 
which especially bear upon the ceaseless persecution which 
the Christians had to endure during that period we are dwelling 
upon in this section which ended with the death of Marcus 
and the accession of his son Commodus in A.D. 180. 

The quotations will be divided into two groups : the first 
from writings of apostles and apostolic men ; that is, of men 
who had seen and conversed with the apostles themselves. 
The dates of this first group of witnesses range from the days 
of Nero to the days of Trajan, roughly from A.D. 64 to A.D. 
107-10. The second group will include writings dating from 
the days of Trajan to the accession of Commodus, A.D. 180 : 
the approximate dates of each writing and a very brief account 
of the several authors will be given. 

It will be seen that the allusions to a state of persecution 
grow more numerous, more detailed and emphatic after A.D. 
134-5, the date of the close of the last terrible Jewish war in 
the latter years of the Emperor Hadrian, when the line of 
separation between the Jew and the Christian became definitely 
marked, and the position and attitude of the Christians was 
no longer merely contemptuously viewed, but was misliked 
and even feared by the State authorities, who then (after 

the early Christian Church was subjected is discussed, the period especi 
ally alluded to stretches from circa A.D. 64 to A.D. 180, including the reigns 
of the Flavian Emperors, of Hadrian and the Antonines. 

But the conditions under which the Christians in the Roman Empire 
lived during the century and a quarter which followed the period above 
referred to, in very many respects differed but little from those that pre 
vailed in the earlier years only in the later period there were more years of 
comparative immunity from active persecution, while, on the ether hand, 
when the comparatively "still" years came to an end, the cruelties inflicted 
upon the Christians were more marked, and the severity of the punishments 
meted out by the dominant pagan party in the State were greater and more 
far-reaching than in the earlier days notably in the reigns of Maximin, 
Decius and Diocletian. 


A.D. 135) for the first time clearly saw what a great and power 
ful society had grown up in the heart of the Empire. 

What a weighty group of words are those we are about to 
quote ! They were written by men who lived in the heart of 
that little Society who with a love stronger than death loved 
Jesus of Nazareth as their friend and their God. They are 
words which are embedded in their letters their devotional 
works their histories their pleading treatises and apologies 
for the faith, the faith which they esteemed of greater price 
than life. 

Intensely real, they tell us of the life they and theirs were 
leading : reading them we seem to breathe the air they 
breathed ; the simple unvarnished story tells us what daily, 
hourly perils were theirs, what awful trials, what unspeakable 
dangers ever surrounded them ; they show how hard it was to 
be a Christian in those early days in the first hundred years 
which followed the " passing " of S. John. 

Nothing we can say now write now can give us a picture, 
a living picture, of the life of these first generations of believers 
in the Name, as do these words gathered from the fragments 
of contemporary writings which have come down to us across 
the long ages of storm and stress and change. 

In the first group we will briefly examine the following : 
The Epistle to the Hebrews, circa A.D. 65-6 ; the First Epistle 
of S. Peter, circa A.D. 65-7 ; the Apocalypse of S. John (the 
Revelation), circa A.D. 90 ; the ist Epistle of S. Clement of 
Rome, circa A.D. 95. To this little selection we would add 
The Seven Epistles of S. Ignatius, A.D. 107-10, now generally 
received as undoubtedly genuine. 



THE first three of the above-mentioned writings possess 
a peculiar authority ; they have been from very early 
times recognized as forming part of the Canon of 
New Testament Scriptures : of these three the Epistle to the 
Hebrews is generally believed to have been composed about 
A.D. 65-6. The congregations addressed in it had evidently 
been exposed to grave afflictions, and are told that a more 
awful trial awaits them in no distant future. For this bitter 
persecution they must prepare themselves. 

A number of examples of noble and heroic resistances to 
trial and temptation are cited (Heb. xi. 32-40, xii. 1-4) ; the 
writer of the Epistle evidently expected that similar experi 
ences will be the lot of the congregation he was addressing. 


The second writing, which will be examined at rather greater 
length, is of the utmost importance as a witness to the view 
of the perpetual persecution to which after A.D. 64 the sect 
was exposed. The First Epistle of S. Peter * was put out 
circa 65-7. It was written manifestly in a time of persecution ; 
the keynote of the Epistle is consolation and encouragement 

1 This early and usually accepted date, circa 65-7, seems the more prob 
ably correct. It is the traditional date, and generally fits in with the life and 
work of S. Peter as given in the ancient authorities. Prof. Ramsay, however, 
The Church in the Empire, puts it some fourteen or fifteen years later, and 
concludes that the Apostle s martyrdom took place after A.D. 80. If, however, 
this later date be adopted, the references to the continual persecution would 
be even more striking than if the earlier and traditional date be accepted. 

1 66 


for the distant congregations addressed. The persecution 
was evidently raging in Rome, whence the letter was written, 
but it was rapidly spreading also in the provinces of the Empire. 
The language used shows it was no isolated capricious on 
slaught, but a systematic and legalized attack on the religion 
of Jesus. To quote a few passages : 

"Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness by 
reason of manifold temptations : that the trial of your faith, 
being more precious than of gold which perish eth, though it be 
tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and 
glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ " (i. 6, 7). 

" If ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye ; and 
be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. ... It is 
better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, 
than for evil doing " (iii. 14-17). 

" Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial 
which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened 
to you " (iv. 12). 

" If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are 
ye ; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. . . . 
If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed ; but 
let him glorify God on this behalf " (iv. 14-16). 

" Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the 
same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are 
in the world " (v. 9). 


The Apocalypse of S. John is now generally dated circa 
A.D. 90 ; the keynote of this strange and in many parts beau 
tiful writing so unlike, save in certain sections, the other 
acknowledged books of the New Testament Canon is the 
suffering of the Church : just a quarter of a century had elapsed 
since Nero and his advisers resolved upon the persecution of 
the congregations of the believers in Jesus. 

No one can read this striking " Revelation " of S. John, 
with its wonderful visions, its exhortations, its words of 
warning, its messages of encouragement and comfort, with 
out being keenly sensible that the Church therein portrayed 


had been exposed was then exposed to a bitter, relentless 
persecution ; that the sufferers were witnesses to the Name ; 
and that their sufferings were not owing to any deeds of 
wrong or treason to the State, but purely because of the Name 
which they confessed. They had been condemned simply 
because they were Christians. 

It is true that comparatively little is said directly about 
these persecutions. Other subjects clearly are far more 
important to the writer ; but a number of incidental allusions 
to the sufferings endured in the course of persecution occur 
allusions which cannot be mistaken. 

We will quote a few of these. Many of them imply that 
the Church was exposed to a long continued harrying to the 
death : 

" I saw under the altar the souls of those that were slain 
for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held : 
and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, 
holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on 
them that dwell on the earth ? And white robes were given 
unto every one of them ; and it was said unto them, that 
they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow- 
servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as 
they were, should be fulfilled " (vi. 9-11). 

These are they that came out of great tribulation . . . 
therefore are they before the throne of God " (vii. 14-17). 

" And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and 
by the word of their testimony ; and they loved not their lives 
unto the death " (xii. n). 

They have shed the blood of saints and prophets " 
(xvi. 6). " 

" And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for 
the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God . . . and 
they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." 
(xx. 4). 

The victims of these persecutions, we are markedly told, 
are witnesses to the " Name " or the " Faith " : so in the 
letter to the Church in Pergamos we read : 

" Thou boldest fast My name, and hast not denied My 
Faith " (ii. 13). 


" And I saw the woman 1 drunken with the blood of the 
saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus " 
(xvii. 6). 

The persecution had been of long standing : 

" I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where 
Satan s seat is : and thou holdest fast My name . . . even in 
those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was 
slain among you " (ii. 13). 

And the persecution is to continue : 

" Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . 
be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of 
life " (ii. 10). 

Specially interesting from an historical point of view in 
this connexion of the testimony of the " Apocalypse " of 
S. John with the sleepless persecution to which the sect was 
subjected, is Professor Ramsay s exegesis of the words, "And all 
that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the beast) whose 
names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb " 
(xiii. 8), and " as many as would not worship the image of the 
beast should be killed " (xiii. 15). 

" It is here implied that the persecutor is worshipped as 
a God by all people 2 except the Christians, and that the 
martyrs are slain because they do not worship the beast - 
i.e. the Roman Emperor. Hence their refusal to worship 
the beast and their witness to their own God, are united 
in one act ; and this implies that the worship of the beast 
(the Emperor) formed a test, the refusal of which was equiva 
lent to a confession and witness. . . . 

The importance attached during this persecution to the 
worship of the Emperor, and the hatred of this special form 
of idolatry as the special enemy, have dictated the phrase 
addressed to the Church of Pergamos, Thou dwellest where 

1 The reference here is to pagan Rome, as " the woman drunken with 
blood " ; so Mommsen quoted by Ramsay, who dwells on the fact that the 
death of the saints springs directly from their acknowledgment of their 
religion, and not for conviction for specific crimes. 

" The mind of the writer is practically restricted to the Roman world. 
... He thinks like a Roman that genus humanum is the Roman world. 
The nations which did not worship the Roman Emperor were never present 
to his mind " (Ramsay, The Church in the Empire). 


the throne of Satan, i.e. the temple of Rome and Augustus, is" 1 

(ii. 13). 

The peculiar partiality of the Emperor Domitian for this 
especial form of idolatry, in which he personally was adored 
as a god, has been already alluded to. 


About the year of grace 95-6, Clement, bishop of Rome, 
wrote his letter to the Christian congregation of Corinth 
generally known as his ist Epistle. From the days of Irenaeus 
downwards this letter has ever been considered a work of the 
highest importance, and its genuineness as a writing of Clement 
of Rome has never been disputed. Its importance consists in 
its record of the traditional interpretation of the apostolic 
teaching which was held in the great congregation of the 
metropolis from the first days. The immediate reasons of the 
Bishop of Rome writing to the Church of Corinth were the 
disastrous internal dissensions which were harassing the 
Corinthian congregation, disputes which not only marred its 
influence at home, but were productive of grave scandal 
abroad, and which, unless checked, would seriously affect the 
work of the Church in cities far distant from Corinth. 

It was a gentle loving letter of remonstrance ; but its value 
to the Church at large in all times consists in its being an 
authoritative declaration of the doctrine taught in the great 
Church in Rome in the closing years of the first century, some 
what more than a quarter of a century after the deaths of 
SS. Peter and Paul. 

Clement in his Epistle to the Church of Corinth had no 
intention of writing a history of his Church. The object of his 
writing was a very different one. There are, however, a few 
notices scattered here and there in the course of his long letter, 
which bear upon the subject now under discussion, i.e., the 
continuous nature of the persecution under which the Christian 
folk lived from the year 64 onward. 

Clement begins by explaining the reason of his delay in 
taking up the questions which vexed the Corinthian congrega 
tion. " By reason of the sudden and repeated calamities 


which are befalling us, we consider, brethren, we have been 
somewhat tardy in giving heed to the matters of dispute that 
have arisen among you, dearly beloved" (/ Ep. i). 

The next allusion is a very striking one. " But to pass 
from the examples of ancient days " (Clement had been quoting 
from the Old Testament), " let as come to those champions who 
lived very near to our time. Let us set before us the examples 
which belong to our generation . . . the greatest and most 
righteous pillars of the Church were persecuted and contended 
even unto death. There was Peter who . . . endured not 
one nor two but many labours, and then having borne his 
testimony went to his appointed place of glory. . . . Paul by his 
example pointed out the prize of patient endurance ... he 
departed from the world, and went unto the holy place. . . . 
Unto these men of holy lives was gathered a vast multitude, 
who through many indignities and tortures ... set a brave 
example among ourselves. 

These things, dearly beloved, we write not only as 
admonishing you, but also as putting ourselves in remembrance; 
for we are in the same lists, and the same contest awaiteth us " 

( Ep. 5-7). 

Clement s words here, which occur in the middle of his 
argument, indisputably imply that after the martyr-death of 
the two great Christian teachers Peter and Paul, a continuous 
persecution harried the congregation (he is speaking especially 
of Rome) all through his own generation. " A vast multitude 
of the elect," he tells us, in their turn suffered martyrdom, and 
were joined to the eminent leaders who had gone before them. 
When Domitian perished we know there was a temporary lull 
in the storm of persecution. Dion relates how the Emperor 
Nerva dismissed those who were awaiting their trial on the 
charge of sacrilege. It was no doubt in this very brief period 
of comparative quiet that Clement had leisure to attend to 
the troubled affairs at the Church of Corinth, and to write the 
important letter just quoted from. 

But the Roman bishop was aware that " the lull " was 
quite a temporary one, and was due only to the reaction which 
set in after the murder of Domitian during the short reign 
of the Emperor Nerva ; for he goes on to speak (in chap, vi.) 


of his condition and of the condition of his co-religionists at 
Rome : " We are in the same lists (with those who have been 
slain), and the same contest awaits us." 



Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who suffered martyrdom in 
the days of Trajan, circa A.D. 107-10, some twelve or fifteen 
years after Clement of Rome wrote his memorable letter to 
the Church of Corinth, is the next witness we propose to caD 
in support of the contention advanced in the preceding pages, 
namely, that the persecution began by Nero in the year 64 
was never really allowed again to slumber, but that with more 
or less vehemence it continued to harass the Christian sect all 
through the reigns of the Emperors of the Flavian dynasty and 

The Letters of Ignatius were written, it is true, a few years 
after the extinction of the Flavian House. But the martyr- 
bishop of Antioch was born about the year of grace 40, and he 
therefore was about twenty-four years old when the perse 
cution of Nero began ; and all through the reigns of Vespasian, 
Titus, and Domitian without doubt he occupied a high position, 
probably in the Christian congregation at Antioch ; he there 
fore may well be cited as a responsible witness of the relations 
which existed between the Christians and the government of 
the Empire during the last thirty-five years of the first 

In the course of his journey from Syria to Rome, where he 
was condemned to be exposed to the wild beasts in the magni 
ficent Flavian amphitheatre (the Colosseum), Ignatius wrote 
seven letters which have been preserved to us ; six of these were 
addressed to special Churches, and one to Polycarp, bishop of 

Round these letters a long controversial war has raged 
respecting their authenticity. In our own day and time, 
thanks to the almost life-long labours of the eminent scholar- 
bishop of Durham (Dr. Lightfoot), the controversy has virtually 
been closed. Serious European scholars, with rare exceptions, 


now accept the seven Epistles (the middle recension, 1 as 
Lightfoot calls it) of the Ignatian correspondence, as absolutely 

Ramsay well and briefly sums up the purport of the allu 
sions to the conditions under which the Christian sect had 
been and still was living during the long period of Ignatius 
own personal experience, which included the whole duration 
of the sovereignty of the Flavian family, i.e. during the reign 
of the Emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. These 
allusions all occur in the martyr s four letters written in the 
course of his journey to Rome, during his halt at Smyrna, 
i.e. in the Epistles to the Churches of Ephesus, Tralles, Mag 
nesia and Rome. 

He says, " These abound in delicate phrases, the most 
explicit of which may be quoted The life of a Christian is 
a life of suffering ; the climax of his life, and the crowning 
honour of which he gradually hopes to make himself worthy, 
is martyrdom ; but Ignatius is far from confident that he is 
worthy of it (Tralles, 4). Suffering and persecution are the 
education of the Christian, and through them he becomes a 
true disciple (Eph. iii. Magn. viii. 9). The teacher, then, is the 
person or Church which has gone through most suffering, and 
thus shown true discipleship, and Ignatius distinguished 
Ephesus and Rome as his teachers. Ignatius is still in danger, 
not having as yet completely proved his steadfastness, whereas 
Ephesus has been proved and is firmly fixed, the implication 
being that it has been specially distinguished by the number 
of its martyrs ; and, moreover, Ephesus has been the highway 
of martyrs, the chief city of the province where many, even 
from other parts, appeared before the proconsul for trial, and 
was, at the same time, the port whence they were sent to 
Rome. We read in the Letter to Ephesus the somewhat 
curious expression, Ye are a high road of them which are on 
their way to die unto God (Eph. xii.)." 

1 So called from the position it holds between the longer recension of the 
" ten Letters," three of which axe put aside as later compilations, and the 
shorter recension of three Letters which Canon Cureton found in the Syrian 
MS. and published, believing that these " three " were the only genuine 
Epistles of the martyr-bishop. 


" A detailed comparison is made in the Letter to the 
Magnesians, viii. 9, between the prophets and the Christians of 
the age. The prophets were persecuted, and the Christians 
endure persecution patiently in order to become true dis 
ciples. . . . Such is the principle of the Christian life ; that 
suffering is the best training. . . . The impression which had 
been produced by persecution on the feelings of the Christians 
towards the Empire is very strongly marked in the Letters 
of Ignatius. Outside of the Apocalypse, the irreconcilable 
opposition between the State and Christianity is nowhere more 
strongly expressed than in them, and there runs throughout 
both groups of writings the same identification of the State 
with the world. The same magnificent audacity towards the 
State, the same refusal to accept what seemed to men to be 
the plain facts of the situation, the same perfect assurance of 
victory, characterize both." l 

With the exception, however, of passages in the Epistle to 
the Romans, Ignatius letters contain no direct reference to 
persecution ; they are exclusively devoted to the affairs and 
prospects of the Churches to which he was writing, but the 
whole spirit of the little collection indicates that persecution 
and suffering were the common lot of the Christian sect in the 
days of the Flavian Emperors and their immediate successors. 

The letter to the Roman Church is, however, quite different 
in its contents from the other six. It is entirely taken up with 
one single topic the coming martyrdom of the writer. For 
the Christian, indeed, in earnest, " martyrdom is the new birth, 
the true life, the pure light, the complete discipleship ; the 
martyr s crown is better than all the kingdoms of the earth ; 
only then, when the martyr sets to the world, will he rise to 
God. Crowned by martyrdom, his life becomes an utterance 
of God." 

This fervid, passionate if somewhat exaggerated picture 
of martyrdom would convey little meaning to the Roman 
congregations had not such scenes as that depicted by Ignatius 
been of common occurrence in Rome. Its reception, however, 
shows how well it was understood by those to whom the 
burning words of the martyr-bishop were addressed. His 

1 Prof. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, chap. xiii. 


letters were most highly prized in very early days, but this 
special Epistle to the Roman Church from the beginning 
enjoyed a wider popularity than the others. Its details and 
teaching were absolutely unique. It appears to have been 
circulated apart from the other six, sometimes alone, some 
times attached to the story of the martyrdom for which 
Ignatius so longed. 

Two or three references in this letter deserve to be noted 
as bearing especially on the question of the sleepless nature 
of the persecution endured by the sect. 

Epistle to Romans, 3. Bishop Lightfoot well paraphrases 
this passage, thus : 

" Do not," writes Ignatius, urging the Roman Church not 
to take any step which might hinder his anticipated death in 
the arena, " depart from your true character ; you have 
hitherto sped the martyrs forward to victory ; do not now 
interpose and rob me of my crown." Rome had hitherto 
been the chief arena of martyrdom ; the Roman brethren 
had cheered on many a dying Christian hero in his glorious 

In the Epistle to Romans, 5, we come upon the following 
curious statement concerning the arena wild beasts to which 
he was condemned : " May I have joy of the beasts that have 
been prepared for me ; and I pray that I may find them 
ready, nay, I will entice them that they may devour me 
quickly, not as they have done to some, refusing to touch 
them through fear ; yea, though of themselves they should 
not be willing while I am ready, I myself will force them 
to it." 

This refusal of the wild beasts to touch their intended 
victims is by no means an uncommon incident in early 
martyrology. The capricious conduct of beasts suddenly 
released from confinement and darkness, and brought into 
the bright light of the amphitheatre, with the dense crowds of 
spectators all around shouting applause or execration, is 
quite natural. It is by no means necessary to impart the 
miraculous into all these stories, many of them absolutely 
authentic. Still that the Most High did at times close the 
mouths of the " wild " is quite credible. The strange, mys- 


terious power often exercised by saintly men and women ovei 
furred and feathered untamed creatures is a well-known fact, 
and has been more than once the subject of discussion. 1 Such 
an allusion, however, to the occasional conduct of the wild 
creatures in the arena occurring in the midst of the writer s 
arguments, plainly shows that the spectacle of terrible massacres 
of Christian folk in the arena, where they were exposed to wild 
beasts, was no uncommon feature in Roman life. 

The grim catalogue of tortures which the heroic martyr 
enumerates in the same chapter of the Roman Epistle, com 
pleted the awful picture of the sufferings of brave Christian 
confessors, sufferings which the Roman citizens had no doubt 
for many past years often gazed at. 

1 See Part I. section i,chap. iii. in the author s work, The Golden Age of 
the Church, entitled, " The Monks and the Animal World," where this interest 
ing question has been discussed at some length, and various examples are 



IN the second group of quotations from ancient authorities 
must be placed the very important notice of the per 
secution in the days of Trajan, contained in the well- 
known correspondence of Pliny and the Emperor. This has 
been already discussed at some length. 

It will be sufficient l here briefly to refer to the treatment 
of Christians whom Pliny found in his province of Bithynia 
not only in the towns but in the country villages, and to the 
influence which these Christians evidently exercised on the 
life of the province. 

These Christians, with the exception of those who claimed 
to be citizens of Rome who were sent to the capital for 
trial were after the third examination, if they still continued 
contumacious, condemned and put to death on the authority 
of the governor (" perseverantes duci (ad mortem) jussi "). 

This is the only heathen authority 2 quoted here, but its 
extreme importance in this inquiry into the condition of 
Christians in the Roman Empire in the days of Trajan and 
earlier will justify its insertion. 


The author of this very early Christian writing is unknown, 
and of the Diognetus to whom the letter is addressed we have 

1 The history, contents, and authenticity of this most weighty reference has 
been already discussed in all its bearings (see above, pp. 45-62). 

2 The well-known reference of Tacitus to the persecution of Nero has been 
referred to (see p. 103). 

12 J 77 


no knowledge. But the short writing in question is interesting 
and even eloquent, and its date can be ascertained with fair 
certainty from expressions contained in the letter. Christi 
anity, when the writing was put out, was a new thing in the 
world this is several times noticed in the letter. 1 

The following notable references to persecution occur : 
" Christians love all men, and are persecuted by all ; they 
are unknown and (yet) condemned ; they are put to death . . . 
they are in want of all things, and yet abound in all ; they are 
dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour they are glorified ; 
they are evil spoken of, and yet are justified ; they are reviled 
and bless ; they are insulted and yet repay the insult with 
honour ; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers ; when 
punished they rejoice " (Letter to Diognetus, chap. v.). 

" Do you not see them (the Christians) exposed to wild 
beasts, that they may be persuaded to deny the Lord, and 
yet not overcome ? Do you not see that the more of them 
that are punished, the greater become the numbers of the 
rest " (Letter to Diognetus, chap. vii.). 

Then shalt thou both love and admire those that suffer 
punishment because they will not deny God." 

Then shalt thou admire those who for righteousness 
sake endure the fire which is but for a moment, and shalt count 
them happy, when thou shalt know (the nature of) that fire " 
(Letter to Diognetus, chap. x.). 


Hernias, the author or compiler of the once famous Shep 
herd (the Pastor) in a very ancient tradition was identified 
with the Hermas mentioned by S. Paul (Rom. xvi. 14). This 
identification was suggested by Origen in the middle of the 
third century. The Muratorian Canon gives as the approxi- 

1 The date circa A.D. 117 is suggested by Bishop Westcott, and Bishop 
Lightfoot generally agrees in placing the writing about this time. Some 
would even place its composition in the very earty years of the second century. 
The last two chapters, xi.-xii., are fragmentary, and apparently were written 
n little but very little later. 


mate date of its composition circa A.D. 140, and suggests 
another author. Modern scholarship, ho we ver, considers that 
the work in question passed througrT several redactions, the 
first belonging to a yet earlier date. If this, as is probable, 
be the case, then certainly considerable portions of the little 
volume of the " Shepherd " belong to the reign of Trajan, 
and possibly to the period of the episcopate of Clement of 
Rome. 1 

But whether we adopt for the composition of the writing 
the year 140, or thereabouts, or with Duchesne and Harnack 
the earlier date of portions of the writing (the last years of the 
first century), there is no doubt whatever that the work 
containing the " Visions," " Commandments," and " Parables " 
of Hermas (generally known as the Shepherd) was accepted by 
the Christians of the second century as a treatise of very high 
authority. It was publicly read in the congregations along 
with the canonical (to use a later term) Scriptures, without, 
however, being put on a level with these sacred writings. 

Gradually though we find its authority diminishing, 
sterner spirits, like Tertullian, misliking its gentle and com 
passionate directions in the case of the reconciliation of sinners, 
theologians too, who in the first years were less positive, 
less precise in their dogmatical definitions, soon began to 
see how speculative and even wild were some of the statements 
and definitions of the Persons in the Godhead. Thus the work 
became less and less an important piece in the arsenal of 
Christian theology. S. Jerome, for instance, openly flouts it 
when he writes of the Shepherd as " Liber ille apocryphus 
stultitiae condemnandus." Others, however, of the highest 
authority in the Church in the third and fourth centuries, 
such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Athanasius, seem 
to have ever held the Shepherd in great veneration. 

The high place it held in the early Church is shown by 
its appearing in that most ancient MS. of the Holy Scrip- 

1 So Harnack ; Duchesne, in his Histoire ancienne de l glise, vol. i. p. 225 
(published 1908), generally adopts Harnack s conclusions respecting the early 
date. Lightfoot (vol. i. p. 360, Clement of Rome) also leans to the conclusion that 
the Clement of the Shepherd is the illustrious Bishop of Rome. This would 
postulate the earlier date for parts of the work. 


tures the Codex Sinaiticus, where it is honoured by being 
placed at the end of the canonical writings. 

But it is as an historical piece of evidence respecting the 
continued persecutions which vexed the early Church, without 
any period of cessation, that the work is quoted here. The 
Shepherd is full of references to this state of things. Renan 
L 6glise Chretienne) describes this book in his picturesque 
vivid imagery as " issuing from a bath of blood." Lightfoot 
speaks of it as " haunted in large parts by this ghastly spectre 
of persecution." The writer specially alludes to this harrying 
of the Christian sect in the past, and says that it was likely 
to continue in the future. 

Hermas, in his unique and interesting work, says nothing 
about the Jewish foes of the Church, and his allusions to 
the pagans around him are very few. The work may be 
said to deal exclusively with the inner life of the Roman congre 
gations. On the whole he pictures the life led by the followers 
of Jesus as fairly satisfactory and good, harassed though it 
was, but there were many things constantly appearing and 
reappearing in that life which needed amendment. He dwells 
with more or less detail on differences, quarrels, bitterness, 
which arose among themselves, and which too often dis 
figured and marred the beautiful Christian ideals. 

But after all, in Hermas evidently faithful and accurate 
pictures of the Christian congregations in Rome, the point 
he dwells on with the greatest emphasis is their behaviour 
in those ever-recurring trials of their faith to which they 
were constantly exposed through the sleepless, restless ill-will of 
the Government. Whether the writing dates from circa 140, 
when Hadrian was reigning, or in part from the last years of 
the first century in the days of Trajan, it is evident that the 
position of the Christian community was ever most precarious. 

The rescripts of Trajan and Hadrian somewhat softened 
the stern measures, but before and even after these humane 
and statesmanlike regulations the position of the Christian 
was indeed a trying and painful one. For even after the 
issuing of the rescripts in question the sword ever hung over 
their heads, and the slender thread upon which it hung was 
often snapped. 


Perpetually were the Christians haled before the magis 
trate. They had stern searching questions to answer ; easily 
was the capital crime of professing the unlawful cult daily 
brought home to them. They were asked r Were they willing 
to renounce it, and in place of it adore the gods of the pagans ? 
Would they throw a few grains of incense, as a token of their 
recantation, on the altars of Rome and Augustus ? If they 
would do this very little thing, as it seemed, at once they 
were released ; but if they refused, then death, in some form 
or other, was their speedy and inevitable doom. 

Hermas tells us a good deal of what was happening in 
the Roman congregations in the matter of persecution for 
the Name s sake. The harrying of Christians, when the 
author of the Shepherd was writing, must have been con 
tinuous, for he sadly speaks of those who were frequently 
yielding to pressure. Apostasy in the Christian ranks was, 
alas ! not an unknown scandal. Some, he tells us, simply 
renounced their faith ; others, terrified, went further and 
publicly blasphemed the Name. Some were positively base 
enough to betray and denounce their brethren in the Faith. 

But, on the other hand, Hermas tells us how the Church 
numbered many martyrs. All, he says, were not on a level 
even here, for some trembled at first and flinched, and only 
witnessed a good confession at the last, probably when about 
to cense the idol altar. There were some though, said our 
writer, whose heart never for an instant failed them. 

Yet, on the whole, this stern though kindly censor of the 
Christian Church was not dissatisfied with the life generally 
led by the congregations of believers in Jesus ; he seems to 
recognise to the full the sorely tempted lives tempted not 
only by the imminent danger which the confession of the 
Name entailed though he dwells mostly on this ever-present 
peril but also by the smaller lures with which all human 
existence is inextricably bound up : business matters, society 
obligations, the old jealousy and envy which ever exist 
between the rich and the poor. 

" Le livre d Hermas," observes Duchesne, " est un vaste 
examen de conscience de Fliglise Romaine." The writer 
spares none in his severe yet kindly criticism ; the priests and 


deacons of the congregations are among the classes with whom 
he finds grave fault. In spite, however, of his earnest and 
touching remonstrances with those who, in hours of trial and 
persecution, in the many daily temptations of common life, 
had left their first love, Hermas acknowledges that in the 
Church of Rome the numbers of the just and upright are 
greater than the numbers of those who have fallen away. It 
is true that he sternly rebukes the unfaithful priests and 
deacons and other members of the hierarchy, but he recognizes 
here, too, men worthy of the highest commendation ; he dwells 
on their love, their charity, their hospitality, and even assigns 
to these faithful ministers of religion a place among the 
glorious company of apostles. 

The general impression which a careful study of Hermas 
portraiture of the Christian congregations in Rome leaves on 
the reader s mind in those far-back days, roughly from the 
days of Nero to the times of Trajan and even Hadrian, is 
that that great and sorely tried Church was far from being 
composed entirely of saints, but that the righteous and God 
fearing the men and women who had washed their robes in 
the blood of the Lamb, as true disciples of the Master, were 
after all decidedly in the majority. 

Closely connected with his picture of the sins and errors 
of the Roman Christians sins largely connected with the 
falling away of many in the dread hour of persecution is 
his assurance that these sins are capable of pardon here, 
even if committed after baptism. No sin, no falling away, 
in Hermas teaching is inexpiable ; no truly penitent one is 
ever to be excluded from pardon and reconciliation. It was 
this generous and broad view of the goodness and the divine 
pity of God that was so misliked by the stern and pitiless 
teachers of the powerful school to which men like Tertullian 
belonged, a school which soon arose in the Church. Of the 
genuine written remains of the earliest period we have 
nothing comparable to the Shepherd of Hermas, when 
we look for a picture of the inner life of the Church of Rome 
in that far-back time when the echoes of the voices of the 
disciples who had been with Jesus were still ringing in 
men s ears. 


As a dogmatic teacher the writer of the Shepherd is of 
little or no value ; Hermas emphatically was no theologian, 
but he was a close and evidently an accurate observer of men 
and things. Earnest and devout, while sadly deploring the 
weakness in the hour of trial of some, the failure of others in 
the ordinary course of things to keep on the narrow way leading 
to life he rejoices with an unfeigned joy over the many noble 
men and women who, in all their sore danger and temptation, 
kept the Faith untarnished and undimmed. 

Hermas of the Shepherd is a witness, to whose voice 
none can refuse to listen, of the sore and sleepless persecution 
which, from the days of Nero, with rare and brief pauses ever 
harassed the Christian sect in Rome. 1 

Composed as this book evidently was directly under the 
veiled shadow of persecution a state of things which colours 
well-nigh every page of the writing it is difficult out of so 
many testimonies here to select any special passage telling 
of this perpetual harrying of the sect ; a very few passages 
will be quoted where this restless state of persecution is painted 
with vivid colouring. 

" Happy ye who endure the great tribulation that is coming 
on, and happy they who shall not deny their own life " 
(Hermas, Vision, ii. 2). 

" The place to the right is for others who have pleased God, 
and have suffered for His Name s sake " (Hermas, Vision, iii. i). 

" What have they borne ? Listen : Scourges, prisons, great 
tribulations, crosses, wild beasts for God s Name s sake to 
them is assigned the division of sanctification on the right hand 
to every one who shall suffer for God s Name " (Hermas, 
Vision, iii. 2). 

" But who are the stones that were dragged from the depths 
and which were laid in the building, and fitted in with the rest of 
the stones before placed in the Tower ? These are they who 
suffered for the Lord s sake " (Hennas, Vision, iii. 5). 

1 What Hermas wrote specially of Rome, no doubt in a very large degree 
was the state of things in the provinces of the Empire. This is clear from 
the great and general popularity enjoyed by the Shepherd in the first two 
centuries. The picture of Christian life in Rome was recognized as an accurate 
picture of their own life, by the citizens of Corinth and Alexandria, by the 
dwellers in Ephesus and Antioch. 


" They without hesitation repented, and practise all virtue 
and righteousness, and some of them even suffered, being 
willingly put to death,"- " Of all these, therefore, the dwelling 
shall be in the Tower." 

" All who were brought before the authorities and were 
examined, and did not deny, but suffered gladly, these are held 
in great honour with God " (Hermas, Parables, viii. 10). 

" All who once suffered for the name of the Lord are 
honourable before God, and of all these the sins were remitted, 
because they suffer for the Name of the Son of God " (Hermas, 
Parables, viii. 20). 

" And ye who suffer for His Name ought to glorify God, 
because He deemed you worthy to bear His Name, that all 
your sores might be healed " (Hermas, Parables, viii. 28). 


The above dates roughly embrace the period of Justin s 
literary activity. He was, however, born not later than 
circa A.D. 114, probably several years before. We know little 
of his early history. He was a diligent student and a thinker, 
and his works are amongst the most important that have come 
down to us from the first sixty years of the second century. 
Three writings of his are extant of the genuineness of which 
there is no doubt. Two Apologies and The Dialogue 
with the Jew Trvpho. The first Apology and the Dialogue 
are works of considerable size. There are besides other 
writings which bear his name, but the authenticity of these is 

Originally a pagan, it seems that he became a Christian 
owing to the strong impression made upon him by the fearless 
ness which the disciples of the New Sect showed in the presence 
of death. He was also deeply persuaded of the grandeur and 
truth of the old Testament Scriptures. In the end, while the 
Emperor Marcus Antoninus was reigning, he received the 
Martyr s crown he had for so many years passionately admired 
and coveted. This was about the year 165. 

His three authentic writings contain numberless references 
to the persecutions endured by the followers of the Name, and 


countless allusions to the state of perpetual risk and danger in 
which his co-religionists lived and worked. 

We will cite a very few of these, in which unmistakable 
details are given. 

" If any one acknowledges that he is a Christian, you 
punish him on account of this confession " (Justin, Apol. i. 4). 

The condemnation to death for the mere name of Christian 
is often dwelt upon by our writer (see such passages as are 
contained in i Apol. xi.). 

" We may not lie or deceive our (official) interrogators ; 
we willingly die confessing Christ " (Justin, Apol. i. 39). 

" Although death is decreed against those who teach, or 
even confess the name of Christ, everywhere we confess it and 
teach it " (Justin, Apol. i. 45). 

" They that believe that there is nothing after death . . . 
they become our benefactors when they free us from the 
sufferings and trials of this life ; . . . they kill us, however, 
not with the view of benefiting us, but that we may be deprived 
of life and joy " (Justin, Apol. i. 57). 

The Gentiles who know God the Creator of all things 
through Jesus the Crucified . . . patiently await every 
torture and vengeance even death rather than worship 
idols " (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, xxxv.). 

" . . . Lest you be persecuted by the rulers who . . . 
will not cease putting to death and persecuting those who 
confess the Name of Christ . . ." (Justin, Dial, xxxix.). 

" . . . Because we refuse to sacrifice to those to whom in 
old times we used to sacrifice to, we suffer the severest penalties, 
and rejoice in death, believing that God will raise us up by 
His Christ, and will make us incorruptible safe immortal " 
(Justin, Dial. xlvi.). 

" Now it is plain that no one is able to frighten us or 
subject us who have believed in Jesus, . . . for it is manifest 
that though beheaded and crucified, and cast to wild beasts, 
and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our 
confessicn ; but the more such things happen, the more do 
others, and in ever-increasing numbers too, become believers 
and worshippers of God through the Name of Jesus " (Justin, 
Dial. ex.). 


" And you yourselves . . . must acknowledge that we 
who have been called by God through the contemned and 
shameful mystery of the Cross . . . endure all torments rather 
than deny Christ even by word " (Justin, Dial, cxxxi.). 

" For having put some to death on account of the false 
charges brought against us, they also dragged to the torture 
our servants children weak women and by awful torments 
drove them to admit that they were guilty of those very 
actions which they (the persecutors) openly perpetrate, about 
which, however, we are little concerned, because none of these 
actions are really ours. We have the ineffable God as witness 
both of our thoughts and deeds " (Justin, n. Apol. xii.). 


Jerome tells us that Minucius Felix was, before his con 
version to Christianity, an advocate at Rome. The dialogue, 
which forms the substance of the writing a work of some 
considerable length, is a supposed argument between a cul 
tured pagan C?ecilius and the Christian Octavius the writer 
Minucius Felix acting as arbiter between the disputants. 
The scene of the dialogue was the sea-shore of Ostia, it 
closes with the conversion of the pagan Coecilius, who is con 
vinced by the arguments brought forward by the Christian 
Octavius. 1 

The resemblances between Minucius Felix and the famous 
Apology of Tertullian, which was written circa A.D.- 200, are 
most striking and the question which of the two was the 
plagiarist has long been before critics. Later scholars, among 
whom Ebert, Salmon, Bishop Lightfoot, Renan, and Keim 
are conspicuous, have conclusively established the priority 
of Minucius. The year of grace 160, before the death of 
Antoninus Pius, a date based upon the internal evidence of the 
writing, is suggested by Lightfoot as the most probable 
period of the composition. 

Dean Milman s estimate of the literary excellence of the 
piece is as follows : " Perhaps no late work, either pagan or 

1 A more detailed description of the famous Dialogue of Minucius Felix 
will be found on pp. 145-6. 


Christian, reminds us of the golden days of Latin prose so 
much as the Octavius of Minucius Felix " (Hist, of Christi 
anity, book iv. chap. iii.). 

The following striking passages bearing on the subject of 
the ceaseless persecution to which the Christians were sub 
jected in the middle years of the second century are taken 
from the thirty-seventh chapter of the Dialogue : 

" How beautiful before God is the spectacle of a Christian 
entering into the lists with pain, when he is matched against 
threats and punishments and tortures ; when, deriding the 
noise of death, he treads under foot the horror of the public 
executioner ; when he raises up his liberty in opposition to 
kings and princes, and yields to God alone, whose he is ; when, 
triumphant and a victor, he tramples upon the very man who 
has pronounced sentence against him ! For he has conquered 
who has won that for which he fights. . . . But God s 
soldier is neither forsaken in suffering, nor is he brought to an 
end by death. Thus the Christian may seem to be miserable, 
he cannot really be found to be so. You yourselves extol 
unfortunate men to the skies. Mucius Scaevola, for instance, 
who, when he had failed in his attempts against the king, 
would have perished . . . had he not sacrificed his right hand. 
And how many of our people have endured that not only 
their right hand but that their whole body should be burned 
burned without a cry of pain though they had it in their 
power to be freed ! 

..." Do I compare Christian men with Mucius or even 
with Regulus ? Yet boys and young girls mock at crosses 
and tortures, wild beasts and all the terrors of punishment 
with all the inspired patience of suffering " (Minucius 
Felix, cap. xxxvii.). 


Very little is known of this Melito ; he was evidently a 
somewhat voluminous writer, but only few fragments remain 
of the long list of his works which Eusebius has given (H.E. 
Book vi. 26). In one of these fragments of a discourse, ad 
dressed to the Emperor Marcus, the following passage occurs : 


" What indeed never before happened, the race of the 
pious (the Christians) is now persecuted, driven about in 
Asia by new and strange decrees. For the shameless in 
formers are those that covet the goods of others, and, making 
use of the edicts of the Emperors, openly commit robbery, 
night and day, plundering those (the Christians) who are 
guilty of no crime. . . . And if these things are carried out 
by your commands (i.e. of the Emperor Marcus), let them at 
least be done in a legal form. . . . We (Christians) indeed 
bear joyfully the guerdon of such a death still, we only 
urge upon you this petition, that you yourself would first 
inquire into the persons of these plotters of mischief, and 
judge whether they themselves deserve death and punish 
ment, or safety and immunity. . . . We entreat you not to 
forget us in the midst of this lawless plunder of the populace " 
(Melito of Sardis, Fragment quoted by Eusebius, H.E. iv. 26). 


It is singular how little information has come down to us 
concerning this Athenian philosopher who had become a 
Christian. It is believed he wrote much, but the very names 
of his works have perished. The only fragments of Athena- 
goras that remain are his Apology, or Embassy, as he styles it, 
addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Corn- 
modus, and a treatise on The Resurrection. 

Philip of Side l gives one interesting detail respecting 
this little known early writer. He tells us he was converted 
to Christianity by the Scriptures, which he was studying 
with the view of controverting them. 

The following passage is from the Apology or Embassy of 

He is addressing the Emperors Marcus and Commodus. 
and then writes : " Why is the mere name (of Christian) hate 
ful to you ? Names (surely) are not deserving of hatred. It 
is the wrongful act that calls for penalty and punishment. 
But, for us who are called Christians you have had no care, 

1 Side was a maritime town of Pamphylia. Philip wrote in the early 
part of the fifth century. 


though we commit no wrong. . . . You allow us to be har 
assed plundered persecuted the people warring with us 
for our name alone. . . . We suffer unjustly contrary to 
the law. . . . We beseech you to have some care for us, that 
we may cease at length to be slaughtered at the instigation 
of false accusers. . . . When we have surrendered our goods, 
they still plot against our very bodies and souls levelling 
against us many charges of crimes of which we are guiltless 
even in thought " (chap. i.). 

" . . . If indeed any one can convict us of a crime either 
small or great, we do not plead to be let off punishment ; 
we are then prepared to suffer the sharpest and most merciless 
chastisement, but if the accusation is merely concerned with 
our Name . . . then, O illustrious sovereigns, it is your 
part to free us by law from their evil treatment. . . . What 
therefore is granted as the common right of all, we too claim 
for ourselves, that we shall not be hated and punished merely 
because we are called Christians " (Athenagoras, chap. ii.). 

The above quotations from Athenagoras show very clearly 
on what apparently superficial grounds the Christians were 
bitterly persecuted and harassed in every conceivable fashion 
solely because they were Christians. The nomen ipsum, the 
bare " name," was a sufficient ground of condemnation in the 
reign of the great and good Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 


Theophilus, according to Eusebius, H.E. iv. 20-24, was 
sixth Bishop of the Syrian Antioch in succession (so Eusebius). 
He became bishop in the year 168, when Marcus was reigning. 
Nothing is known of his life save that he was born a pagan. 
He was the author of several works including Commentaries 
on the Gospels and on the Book of Proverbs, and of a writing 
against Marcion, etc. But none of these have come down 
to us. All we possess are the three books containing " the 
Elements of the Faith," addressed to his friend Autolycus. 
The quoted passage is from the third of these books. His 
arguments in many respects are similar to those advanced by 
Justin Martyr. 


" They persecute, and do daily persecute, those who 
worship Him (the only God). ... Of those (i.e. of the 
Christians) who are zealous in the pursuit of virtue, and 
practise a holy life, some they stone, some they put to death, 
and up to the present time they subject them to cruel torture." 


To complete the chain of testimony supplied by con 
temporary writers to the perpetual state of unrest, an unrest 
ever passing into active persecution, which was the lot of 
the Christian sect from A.D. 64, the date of the first formal 
harrying of Nero, to A.D. 180, the date of the death of the 
Emperor Marcus, the period here under consideration the 
important witness of Tertullian is added. The years of his 
literary activity stretch roughly from A.D. 195-211. But 
although the dates of his works range from some fifteen to 
twenty years after the death of Marcus, it is certain that his 
general view of the condition of Christians would include at 
least the latter years of the period we are specially dwelling on. 

His treatises, which especially relate to Christian and 
church life and to ecclesiastical discipline, are coloured with 
references to this condition of persecution under which the 
Christian sect evidently lived. The very numerous references 
in question are introduced casually as though the dangerous 
conditions were a matter of course, were inescapable, and 
entered into the ordinary life of the sect. 

We cite a very few of these as specimen instances of 
Tertullian s conception of the life so environed with deadly 

The whole of the short and interesting address to " Blessed 
Martyrs designate " in this connection should be read here. 

We are daily beset by foes, we are daily betrayed, we 
are oftentimes surprised in our meetings and congregations " 
(Tertullian, Apol. 7). 

" Without ceasing for our Emperors we offer prayer . . . 
we ask for whatever, as man or Caesar, an Emperor could wish. 
. . . With our hands thus stretched out and up to God, rend 
us with your iron claws, hang us up on crosses, wrap us in 


flames, take our heads from us with the sword, let loose the 
wild beasts on us ; the very attitude of a Christian praying 
is one of preparation for its punishment. Let this, good 
rulers, be your work, wring from us the soul beseeching God 
on the Emperor s behalf. Upon the truth of God, and devo 
tion to His Name, put the brand of crime " (Tertullian, 
Apol. 30). 

" Christians alone are forbidden to say anything in their 
defence to help the judge to a righteous decision ; all that 
is cared about is getting what the public hatred demands 
the confession of the Name " (Tertullian, Apol. 2). 

Constantly Tertullian refers to the great offence in the 
Christians simply lying in " the Name." " Your sentences, 
however, are only to this effect, viz. : that one has confessed 
himself to be a Christian," occurs frequently (Tertullian, 
Ad Nationes, 8). 




WE read in the pathetic and interesting study DC 
Laude Martyrii (On the Praise of Martyrdom) by 
an anonymous writer a study which usually follows 
the works of S. Cyprian how some Roman officials who were 
assisting in the torture of a dying Christian saint said one to 
another : " This is really marvellous, this power of disregard 
ing pain and agony ! Nothing seems to move him ; he has 
a wife and little ones, but even the love of these touches 
him not. What is the secret of his strange power ? It can 
surely be no imaginary faith which enables him thus to 
welcome such suffering such a death ! " 

The moral effect of this endurance of this serene accept 
ance of torture and death both on persecutors and persecuted, 
was no doubt very great. It has probably been underrated. 
What we have just quoted from the treatise De Laude 
Martyrii, i.e. the testimony to what must have happened many 
thousand times viz. : how it struck the officials who were 
carrying out the stern law of Rome was repeated in our own 
day and time by one of our most serious historians ; one not 
likely by any means to have been carried away by religious 
enthusiasm. Lecky, in his scrupulously fair but at the 
same time cold and passionless chapter on early Christian 
persecutions, closes his review of the period with the following 
remarkable words : " For the love of their Divine Master, 
for the cause they believed to be true, men, and even weak 
girls, endured these things (he has been detailing some of the 
well-known tortures and deaths of the early Christian believers) 
13 193 


without flinching, when one word would have freed them 
from their sufferings. No opinion we may form of the pro 
ceedings of priests in a later age should impair the reverence 
with which we bend before the martyr s tomb." l 

Now, the more thoughtful of the pagan rulers who dreaded 
with a nameless dread the overthrow of the idol-cult, the 
preservation of which they believed was indissolubly linked 
with the maintenance of the great Roman Empire they loved 
so well, saw in the constancy of the martyrs a great danger 
to which this idol-cult was exposed. 

Rulers so different as Nero and Domitian, Hadrian, Anton 
inus Pius, and Marcus Antoninus, Severus, Decius, and Dio 
cletian, and their ministers, felt that the sternest measures of 
repression of the new Faith were absolutely necessary if they 
would stem the fast advancing and apparently resistless tide 
of Christianity in the Empire. 

In view of the powerful impression which the constancy 
of the accused Christian when brought face to face with 
all the horrors of torture and of death made upon the 
pagan population who beheld it or heard of it, every effort 
was made by the more far-seeing of the Roman magistrates 
to induce the accused Christian to recant and to yield to the 
will and wishes of the imperial government. 

In countless cases this yielding was made seemingly very 
easy just a few grains of incense thrown upon an idol altar ; 
just an acknowledgment of the divinity of the reigning 
Emperor, which could after all be explained away as a simple 
official expression of fervid loyalty. 

In some cases a recognition of one supreme deity Jupiter 

who would represent the one Almighty God of the Christians 

was suggested as a " modus vivendi " by the plausible 

rhetoric of a statesmanlike magistrate who cared for Rome, 

but to whom all religions were myths. 

The Christian senator, who for the sake of Christ had 
given up a beautiful home and an exalted rank, would be 
reminded by his pagan colleagues on the judge s seat of the 
inescapable duty which one in his great position owed to law 
and order to his master the Emperor ; surely he, of all 

1 Lecky, History of European Morals, chap, iii., " The Persecutions, "pp. 497-8. 


men, should set an example of loyalty and obedience ; was 
he to degrade his proud order by worshipping an unknown 
Crucified offender in defiance of the wishes and commands of 
the Emperor and the imperial government ? 

A yet more moving appeal was very often made to the 
brave Christians of both sexes by an eloquent magistrate to 
show some pity for those they loved, for their aged father 
and mother ; for husband or wife or helpless children. Were 
they by their fatal obstinacy to bring bereavement and dis 
grace, shame and poverty, on these unoffending ones ? 

Then behind all these specious arguments the Roman 
judge would show the pale confessor standing before him the 
awful tortures the cruel death which surely awaited the one 
who refused, with what seemed a sullen and inexplicable 
obstinacy, to obey the laws of an immemorial Empire, when 
after all obedience was so easy. 

And many did yield of this there is no doubt. The 
number of martyrs who resisted unto death no doubt is very 
great, much greater than the cold and passionless critic chooses 
to acknowledge, but the number of those who did yield was 
no doubt considerable. 

It was indeed a title to honour for a magistrate of Rome 
publicly to win over one or more of these confessors of the New 
Religion, to succeed in persuading some well-known Christian 
to scatter on the altar of the deified Emperor, or of the popular 
image of Mars the Avenger, or of Diana, or of the yet greater 
Jupiter, a few grains of incense typifying his return to the 
ancient pagan cult or better still, to extract a few reluctant 
words in which the adored Chiist was renounced and abandoned. 

Such a judicial victory was ever a signal triumph for the 
Roman pagan judge. It would speedily bear its fruits and 
rally to the drooping standard of paganism a number of men 
and women pondering, doubting, hesitating on the threshold 
of Christianity ; a threshold with such an example of recanta 
tion before them, which they would surely never cross ! 

And these scenes during the long years of active persecution 
were acted again and again. The war between the religion of 
Christ and the old idol-cult so dear to Rome and her subject 
millions was indeed a protracted and deadly combat, and, 


as far as men could see, the issue for long years trembled in the 

And all this time much more than men now think 
hung on the grave and solemn question of martyrdom. 

It was an outward and visible sign of that new wonderful 
revelation which was influencing so many different minds, 
which was working restlessly in such varied classes, in 
Rome, and in the many provinces of the world of Rome, 
which from the early days of its appearance in the great 
Empire, began at once to work a mighty change in all 
ranks in all society where it penetrated, and every year it 
penetrated deeper. 

The New Revelation was taught by an ever-increasing 
band of teachers, fervid, impassioned, eloquent some of them 
learned and cultivated. It possessed too a literature which 
gradually increased in volume and power a literature which 
was founded upon " a Record " which these teachers affirmed 
issued from no workshops of this earth. 

But all this literature, powerful, soul-stirring though it 
was, only touched, comparatively speaking, a very few of the 
men and women who made up the mighty world of Rome. The 
great mass of the peoples of the Empire neither read the books 
nor heard the words of the teachers of the New Religion. 

Something more was needed to touch the masses of the 
people something thousands might see and hear of ; some 
thing they might see for themselves. That something was 
supplied by the noble army of martyrs. 

From the first days of the appearance of the new teaching 
the imperial government of Rome was determined, if possible, 
to stamp it out of the society which Rome controlled. 

While the disciples of Him who gave the doctrine and the 
solemn charge to His own to teach the strange wonderful story 
to all men, were still living and bravely carrying out the 
command of their Master, began the relentless persecution of 
those who received the New Revelation (men named them 
Christians after their Master Christ) ; a persecution which was 
now fitful and uncertain, now fierce and relentless in its action, 
now languid and halting, but which never slept. During the two 


centuries and a half, the period roughly from Nero to Constan- 
tine, to be a Christian was simply unlawful, and exposed its 
votary to the direst penalties, which at times were rigorously 
exacted. The law of the State at times was suffered to remain 
in partial abeyance ; but to use the great African teacher s 
nervous words spoken to the Christian Brotherhood, during all 
these long years " Non licet esse vos." l 

The more statesmanlike of the Roman rulers, recognising 
the influence exercised by the martyrs over the people, as we 
have remarked, by all the means in their power encouraged 
apostasy because a public renunciation of the Faith deeply 
moved the people. Every public act of apostasy was a heavy 
blow to the Christian cause ; while on the other hand, each 
example of splendid endurance of suffering and death was a 
wonderful encouragement to the vast crowd of outsiders who 
were hesitating on the borderland of Christianity. What 
must be, thought these, and they were a great multitude, 
the secret power of the new Faith which could nerve strong 
men, tender women of all ages and of different ranks to 
endure such awful sufferings, and at the end to meet death 
with a smile lighting up the wan pain-wrung faces. 


The Story they told must be true, otherwise never would it 
possess such a mighty power. 

Now, the leaders of the sect of the New Revelation were 
fully conscious of these two factors in the life of their day and 
time. Anything like apostasy or public renunciation of the 
religion of Christ once adopted was a calamity to be guarded 
against with the utmost vigilance. On the other hand, each 
example of public endurance to the end was an enormous aid 
to the work of propagating the Faith, so from very early days 
a school we can use no other fitting term was established in 
the great Christian centres, of preparation for Martyrdom. 
This most interesting and far-reaching work in the very 
early Church the Church of the Ages of Persecution has 

1 " It is not lawful to be you," but it is impossible to render in English the 
full force of this epigrammatic saying of Tertullian. 


hitherto generally escaped notice ; only quite lately has it 
attracted some attention. 1 

It was no haphazard temporary piece of work, this " train 
ing for martyrdom," but as we shall see a veritable " school," 
a protracted education for an awful, for a not improbable 
contingency. At the end of the second and through the 
third century it was evidently a recognized and important 
Christian agency. When once we are aware of its existence 
we begin to find unmistakable proofs of it in the writings 
of important teachers like Tertullian and Cyprian. 

In this once famous but now forgotten school of martyrdom 
the well-known simile of S. Paul was the basis of the theory 
which seems to have inspired the work the simile which 
compared the Christian combatant in the world-arena to the 
athlete in the well-known and popular games of the amphi 
theatre. There the athlete, before entering the theatre of 
combat, was carefully educated to endure hardness ; a long 
and careful training before such an one could hope to win the 
palm and the crown was absolutely necessary. He must go 
through many long, laborious, and painful exercises, abstinence, 
watchings, fastings, before his body was fit to endure the perils 
and sufferings of a trained combatant in the public arena. 

In like manner must the Christian athlete who looked 
forward to a possible martyr s trial train himself. S. Cyprian, 
in the middle of the third century, thus definitely writes 
of what clearly had been the practice of the .Church : 
" Ad agonem saecularem, exercentur homines et parantur . . . 
Armari et praeparari nos beatus Apostolus docet." (" For 
the combat with the world are men trained and prepared. . . . 
The blessed apostle teaches us to be all armed and ready.") 

The prize of martyrdom was very great. The visions and 
dreams of the blessed sufferers were constantly read aloud 
in the congregation. 

At the moment after death angels would bear them into 

1 De Boissier, the Academician, specially calls attention to it as a some 
what novel piece of very early ecclesiastical history, and he refers his readers 
to a comparatively little known study on this subject by M. Le Blant, a well- 
known scholar in early Christian lore ; of this " Study " of Le Blant, De Boissier 
speaks with the highest praise. 

2 S. Cyprian, Epist. Ixvi. ad Thibaritanos. 


Paradise the garden of God. They would be welcomed there 
with words of triumph and even admiration. The Master 
would Himself receive His redeemed servants who had fought 
the good fight and won. His kiss of welcome, the touch of 
His hand, would at once fill their souls with a joy indescribable. 
The " Vision of Perpetua," circa A.D. 200, or a little earlier, one 
of the early Passions of Martyrs, the absolute authenticity of 
which is undisputed, for it has never been added to or re- 
edited, is a good example of the " Visions " seen by the 
martyrs before their supreme trial. 

But far more than the public recital of these well-loved 
acts and passions was required for the training and prepara 
tion work, so a number of short treatises or tracts were specially 
composed and put out for the instruction of the earnest and 
devoted men and women as " Manuals," so to speak, of 
preparation for the great trial. Most of these have dis 
appeared ; they were composed by fervid teachers for a special 
season, for the years when the Church was exposed to bitter 
trial ; and when the trial time was over they were no longer 
required, and as a rule were not preserved. A very few 
remain to us, such as the " Exhortatio ad Martyrium " of 
Origen, such tractates of Tertullian as "ad Mar tyres " and 
the " Scorpiace " ; the letter "Ad Thibaritanos " of S. 
Cyprian, and the anonymous work quoted at the beginning 
of this chapter, De Laude Martyrii. These are fair speci 
mens of what was once a considerable literature. In very 
many of the " Passions of the Martyrs " which have been 
preserved we meet with an oft-repeated answer made by the 
Christian to the judge when asked about his rank in 
life, country, family, and the like. " I am a Christian " was 
the almost invariable answer to these questions ; often nothing 
more. This seems to have been the " formula " taught in the 
schools of martyrdom, very few traces, however, of this 
"formula" appear in the treatises which have come down to us; 
it must, however, have been constantly repeated in the "lost" 
treatises or tracts placed in the hands of those under training, 
lost treatises to which reference has been made. The Epistle 
of S. Ignatius to the Romans was no doubt used as one 
of these treatises or manuals. 


The words too of a famous teacher like Cyprian, who himself 
in the end suffered martyrdom, were treasured up. Some of 
them are contained in the Vision of S. Flavian before he 
suffered : " I saw in a dream the martyr Bishop of Carthage, 
and I said to him : Cyprian, is the death stroke very 
agonizing ? He replied : When the soul is in a state of 
heavenly rapture the suffering flesh is no longer ours ; the 
body is quite insensible to pain when the spirit is with 

This conception of the insensibility to pain on the part of 
the martyr was a very general one. Tertullian repeats it 
almost in identical w r ords. S. Felicitas, quoted in the Passion 
of S. Perpetua above referred to, said : " When I am in the 
amphitheatre the Lord will be there and will suffer for me." 

S. Perpetua in the same well-known " Passion," after 
having been tossed and gored by a wild and maddened beast, 
woke up from the ecstacy into which she had been plunged 
and asked the official standing near her when she was to be 
exposed to the infuriated animal. S. Blandina in another 
cruel scene of martyrdom was equally insensible to pain 
her soul was far away speaking with or praying to the Lord. 

But of all the various " Manuals of Martyrdom " which 
were put into the hands of those who desired to receive a 
special training against the day of trial, none seemed to have 
been efficacious, easy of comprehension, persuasive like the 
words of S. Matthew s Gospel. These were evidently com 
mitted to memory and murmured again and again in the sore 
hour of trial. 

Such sayings as these they were the Lord s own words, 
the sufferer knew : " Blessed are they that are persecuted for 
righteousness sake ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." 
." How l strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth 
unto life." " Fear not them which kill the body, but are not 
able to kill the soul ; but rather fear Him which is able to 
destroy both soul and body in hell." 

" Whosoever, therefore, shall confess ME before men, him 

1 A very ancient and probably an authoritative reading. When in the text 
the language of didactic calmness passes suddenly into the language of 
emotion : " How strait is the gate," etc. S. Matt. vii. 13, 14. 


will I confess (acknowledge) before My Father which is in 
heaven/ " But whosoever shall deny ME before men, him 
will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven." 

" He that loveth father and mother more than ME is not 
worthy of ME." " And he that loveth son or daughter more 
than ME is not worthy of ME." 

" If any man will come after ME, let him deny himself and 
take up his cross and follow ME." 

" And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren or 
sisters, or father or mother, or wife or children, or lands for 
My Name s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall 
inherit everlasting life." 

But the " training for martyrdom " to which a number of 
Christians in the first, second, and third centuries voluntarily 
gave themselves was by no means confined to the mastering 
of the contents of a small collection of carefully prepared 
treatises, or to the listening to eloquent and burning exhorta 
tions of devoted teachers, or even to the constant dwelling on 
the words of the Divine Master. This training included a 
prolonged and carefully balanced practice in austerities which 
would accustom the body to self-denial and to suffering, so that 
when the agony of the trial really began, the body, thoroughly 
enured to endurance, would be able to meet pain without 

In this training for the mortal combat in which victory was 
so all-important to the cause, no efforts were spared painful 
and laborious exercises, long fasting, watching and prayer, 
which would render the body insensible to fatigue, capable 
of bearing any suffering however poignant, were constantly 
practised. This training sometimes went on for a long while 
before a fitting opportunity presented itself of a public 

It was the want of this the absence of this long and 
careful training alluded to in the beautiful and evangelical 
letter describing the Lyons and Vienne martyrdoms, which 
was the cause of many of the earlier failures, and shrinking from 
the agony of martyrdom, of some of the Lyons sufferers. 



That great and severe master Tertullian, writing about 
A.D. 200, gives us some details of the austerities practised by 
those in training for a martyr s death. We will quote a very 
few of his burning words here. 

" Blessed martyrs designate, think," he wrote, " how in 
peace soldiers (he was speaking of the training of the uncon- 
quered legions of Rome) inure themselves to war by toils, 
marching in heavy armour, running over the exercise yard, 
working at the ditches, framing the heavy testudo/ engaging 
in numberless arduous labours, so that when the day of battle 
comes, the body and mind may not shrink as it passes from the 
robe of peace to the coat of mail, from silence to clamour, from 
quiet to tumult. In like manner, oh blessed ones ! count 
whatever is hard in this lot of yours which you have taken up, 
as a discipline of mind and body. You are about to pass 
through a noble struggle in which the living God is the President, 
the Holy Ghost is the trainer, in which the prize is an eternal 
crown of angelic life. . . . Therefore your Master Jesus Christ 
has seen good before the day of conflict ... to impose on you 
a hard training that your strength may be greater " . . . " the 
harder the labours in the training of preparation, the stronger 
is the hope of victory, ... for valour is built up by hard 
ship." i 

In other places Tertullian quotes S. Paul in such 
passages as : " We glory in tribulations also, knowing that 
tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and 
experience hope " (Rom. v. 3, 4) ; and again : " Therefore 
I take pleasure " (2 Cor. xii. 10) " in infirmities, in 
reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses 
for Christ s sake " . . . " always bearing about in our 
body the dying of the Lord Jesus " (2 Cor. iv. 10) ; 
and again (2 Cor. iv. 16, 17, 18), " Though our out 
ward man perisheth yet the inward man is renewed 
day by day. . . . For our light affliction, which is but 
for a monent, worketh for us a far more exceeding 
and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the 

1 Tertullian, Ad Martyr es, 3. 


things which are seen, but at the things which are not 
seen." l 

In his treatise on " Idolatry " Tertullian enters even more 
into detail on this question of " training for martyrdom." 
He enjoined that every kind of austerity should be practised, 
for instance, that hunger and thirst should be endured as an 
habitual observance. 

This fervid exhortation closes with the singular words : 
" An over-fed Christian will be more necessary to bears and 
lions, perchance, than to God ; to encounter wild beasts it 
will surely be his duty to train for emaciation." 

All this and much more in this curious " Study " of Ter 
tullian partake of exaggeration, but it throws considerable 
light on the manner on which martyrdom was positively 
trained for, and the body prepared for the endurance of 
terrible suffering, a suffering invariably closed by death. 
Every example of such a bravely patient endurance every 
"resistance unto blood" the Christian guides and leaders 
of the first 250 years felt was of inestimable value for the 
propagation of their cause. Every public defeat and recanta 
tion, on the other hand, would be a grave injury to their work ; 
so the pagan government strained, as we have remarked, every 
nerve to make recantation easy ; while the Christian masters, 
on the contrary, did everything which ingenuity could invent 
or fervid devotion suggest to train up athletes who in the 
supreme public trial might win the prize of martyrdom. 

They were successful in spite of many defeats. These 
schools of martyrdom produced in Rome and in the provinces 
a countless succession of brave men and women of all ranks, 
of all ages who, to the amazement of the pagan world, 
through pain and agony again and again won the martyr s 
blood-stained glorious crown. It was quite a novel experience 
in the world, and the effect which it had worked on the rank 
and file of men and women was only clearly seen after the 
Peace of the Church. The people of Rome, from what 
they had seen, were persuaded with an intense persuasion, 
no one doubting that a Faith which could produce such 

1 Quoted in the Scorpiace of Tertullian, and much more from S. Paul to 
the same point. 


heroes was surely based on something which was true and 

Some eighty or at most ninety years before Tertullian 
lived and wrote, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, on his way to 
Rome, where he was doomed to be exposed to the wild beasts 
in the great amphitheatre, wrote his famous letter to the 
Roman Church. 

The date of the letter is about A.D. 107-10. The little 
writing was highly esteemed in the early Church. It may 
be fairly styled a vade mecum of martyrs in the age of per 
secution. It accurately embodies the thoughts and aspira 
tions which the " School of Martyrs " we have been picturing 
taught its pupils. We will give some of these thoughts as 
a fitting conclusion to this little study on " Preparation for 
Martyrdom " as practised during the first two hundred and 
fifty years. 

This Letter of Ignatius breathes in its nervous and 
impassioned words a complete fearlessness, though the awful 
trial lay immediately before him ; it tells of an intense and 
impassioned desire on the part of the \vriter to be allowed 
to bear his witness to the love of Christ to be permitted 
" to resist unto blood " (Heb. xii. 4). The whole of the 
short letter is, in fact, a passionate cry for martyrdom. 

Ignatius wrote somewhat as follows : 

" DEAR ROMAN CONGREGATION, Do nothing which may 
hinder me from finishing my course. If you keep silence, 
God will speak through me." (He evidently feared that, 
through the intercession of powerful friends whom the great 
teacher knew he possessed in the capital, the death sentence 
might be postponed, possibly annulled.) 

" Pray " he wrote " that I may have strength to do as 
well as to say. If only you will keep silence and leave me 
alone, I am a word of God ; but if you desire my life 
then shall I be again a mere cry. It is good to get from the 
world unto God that I may rise unto Him. 

" I would that all men should know that of my own free 
will, I die for God. . . . Let me be given to the wild beasts, 
that I may be found pure bread of God (or of Christ). Bear 


with me. . . . Now am I beginning to be a disciple. . . . 
Come fire and cross and grapplings with wild beasts, wrench 
ing of bones, hacking of limbs, crushings of my whole body. 
Come cruel tortures of the devil to assail me. Only be it mine 
to attain unto Jesus Christ ! . . . Him I seek who died on 
our behalf. Him I desire who rose again for our sake. . . . 
Suffer me to receive the pure light : when I am come thither, 
then I shall be a man. Let me be an imitator of the Passion 
of my God . . ." 

" I write unto you in the midst of life, yet lusting after 
death. My desire (or my love of life) has been crucified, 
there is (now) no fire of earthly longing in me but only water, 
living and speaking in me and saying within me, Come to 
the Father. I have no delight in the food of corruption or 
in the delights of life. I desire the bread of God which is the 
flesh of Christ, . . . and for drink I desire His blood, which 
is love incorruptible." 

This was the new marvellous spirit in which the early 
Christian martyrs met and welcomed with a strange intense 
gladness, torture, ignominy, death. This was the spirit which 
the great pagan statesmen who sat at the helm of the Empire 
in Rome dreaded with a nameless dread, and longed to crush 
and to destroy, the new spirit which the wisest and most 
far-seeing among them felt was ever ringing the death-knell 
of the pagan cult, the cult they connected with the genesis, 
the power, and the very life of the Roman system, the cult 
which deified Rome and worshipped the genius of Rome s 




/CONSIDERABLE stress has been laid in the preceding 

V s pages on the question of the duration of the periods 

of persecution and the consequent number of martyrs 
who suffered in these periods. It has commonly been assumed 
that after the death of Nero a lengthened period of quiet 
was enjoyed by the Church of Rome as in the provinces, 
and that the sect of Christians was generally left unmolested 
during the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, and indeed of 
Domitian, until quite the last years of his life. 

It has been shown that this was by no means the case, 
and that the Christians were harassed more or less all through 
this period of supposed quiet. 

And after, through the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, 
the rapidly growing Christian community was perpetually per 
secuted by an unfriendly and suspicious government, often at 
the instigation of a jealous and hostile populace. Again and 
again these attacks, probably at first mostly local and partial, 
flamed out into a general and bitter persecution. 

In the days of Antoninus Pius the harrying of Christians 
even grew more and more general and cruel, and when Marcus 
Antoninus became Emperor, the sufferings of the disciples 
of Jesus of Nazareth became decidedly more acute and pro 
nounced, and a terrible period of persecution set in and became 
the lot of the Christian subjects of Rome. 

We have awful examples of this bitter " Antonine " per 
secution in the sad records, undoubtedly genuine, of the 



martyrs of Vienne and Lyons, of the Scillitan martyrs 
in North Africa, of the heroic Mauritanian victims, 
in the striking and pathetic acts of Perpetua and her 
companions. 1 

Again it has been not unfrequently urged, and very largely 
believed, that the Christian traditions exaggerated the number 
of martyrs who suffered during the long though occasionally 
interrupted periods of persecution. As regards this early 
period, the first two centuries, the age we are now especially 
dwelling on, this supposition, very generally more or less 
accepted, is absolutely baseless. Indeed, the exact contrary 
is the case. 

So far from exaggerating the numbers of confessors of 
" the Name," or painting in too vivid colours the story 
of their martyrdom, the earlier Christian writers dwell very 
little either on the number of the confessors or on their 
sufferings. It does not appear that any mention of martyrs 
or confessors of the second century appears in the oldest 
extant Church calendars ; no allusion in these lists is recorded 
of martyrs until after the middle of the third century. Only 
in the case of some celebrated martyrs and confessors is an 
exception made. As a rule, save in very special cases, no 
anniversary of second-century martyrs appears to have been 
kept. It is only from the general tone of the earliest Christian 
writings 2 that we gather that the community was exposed 
to an ever-present danger, and that the shadow of persecution 
was ever brooding over the heads of the followers of " the 

By far the most definite account of the great numbers of 
Christians, the way in which they were looked upon by the 
imperial government, and the severe measures taken against 
them, are to be found in the notices of great pagan historians 
such as Tacitus and Suetonius, and more accurately and 
precisely in the Letter of Pliny to Trajan and in the 

1 Although the usual date given for this last attack on Christianity is a few 
months after the death of the Emperor Marcus. There is no doubt that they 
belong to the policy of persecution carried out by Marcus, and that the reaction 
in favour of Christianity noticeable in the reign of Commodus, his successor, 
had not had time to make itself felt. 

2 Compare the quotations taken from these writings given above. 


Emperor s reply, on which we have already dwelt with some 

On the important and interesting question respecting the 
" number " of martyrs generally, one very weighty piece of 
evidence has been curiously neglected and ignored. 

This evidence comes from the Catacombs, which have 
been in later years the subject of so much careful and pains 
taking research, a research that is still proceeding. In these 
investigations perhaps nothing has assisted the great scholars 
who have devoted themselves to the work, so much as the 
so-called " Itineraries " or " Pilgrim Guides " to this great 
network of subterranean cemeteries beneath the suburbs of 
Rome. In the fifth, sixth, and two following centuries we 
know that vast numbers of Pilgrims, not only from Italy but 
from distant countries, visited Rome, especially with the 
view of reverently visiting and praying at the shrines of the 
brave confessors of the Faith who suffered in the days of 
persecution, from the time of Nero to the accession of Con- 
stantine the Great to power. 

To assist these pilgrim crowds, a certain number of 
" Itineraries " were composed. Some few of them have 
come down to us ; these curious and interesting Pilgrim 
" Hand-Books " have been usually unearthed (in com 
paratively speaking modern times) in certain of the greater 
monastic libraries. 1 

They date from the last years of the fifth century onwards, 
and were written the copies we possess mostly in the 
sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries. No doubt these " It 
ineraries " were copied from still older documents, and it is 
likely that more will be discovered. But these that we 
possess have been of incalculable service to the researches 
of men like Marchi, De Rossi, Marucchi, and their companions. 

The information contained in these Pilgrim Guide-Books 
has been found to be in most cases singularly accurate, and 
the details set forth have been found most strikingly to 
correspond with what has been discovered. Not only have 
the more famous shrines alluded to been identified, but even 
the general details have been proved to have been largely 

1 A short account of the principal of these Itineraries is given on pp. 227-8. 


correct. One detail, however, in these ancient " Pilgrim 
Itineraries " has not received the attention it deserved, and 
which in a most striking way confirms the point urged above, 
that the numbers of martyrs in Rome (for we are dwelling 
here especially on Rome) has been greatly underrated by 
most historians. 

We will briefly glance through the testimony of the 
" Itineraries " on this point, touching upon each of the 
principal Catacombs in order. As a rule the " Pilgrim 
Itineraries " class the different groups of cemeteries (Cata 
combs) under the different heading of the Roman road in the 
immediate vicinity of which they were excavated. Thus 
cemeteries are classed together which are situated on the 
" Via Aurelia," the " Via Portuensis," the " Via Appia," the 
Via Salaria Nova," etc. This topographical arrangement 
was drawn up evidently for the convenience of these pilgrim 
travellers, who were thus guided in turn round the principal 


THE VIA VATICANA. (The Vatican Cemetery.) 

The allusion referred to here is to the crypts existing 
beneath the great basilica of S. Peter. " No man knows 
what the number is of the holy martyrs who rest in this 
Church " (Etenim nullus hominum scit numerum sanct 
orum Martyrum qui in eadem ecclesia pausant). Itinerary 
of William of Malmesbury. 

This " Guide " was probably published for the use of 
the Crusaders. It was evidently made from a much 
older document, for many of the shrines alluded to in it 
belonged to Catacombs which in William of Malmesbury s 
time had been long forgotten. 

THE VIA AURELIA. (The road leading to Civita Vec hia.) 

After speaking of the shrines of certain celebrated 
confessors buried in a cemetery hard by this road, we 


read how " these lie buried with many (other martyrs) " 
(cum multis sepulti jacent). De Locis SS. Martyrum. 

Of this " Itinerary," the full title of which is " De Locis 
SS. Martyrum quae sunt foris civitatem Romae," the 
MS. was found in the Salzburg Library. 

THE VIA PORTUENSIS. (The road leading to Portus, the ancient 

port of Rome, constructed by Claudius.} 
Certain famous shrines are particularised, after which 
follow the words : " Then you go down into a cave (or 
crypt), and you will find there an innumerable multitude 
of martyrs " (invenies ibi innumerabilem multitudinem 
martyrum) ; and again, alluding to another spot, " that 
cave (or crypt) is filled with the bones of martyrs." 

The cemeteries on the Via Portuensis include the ceme 
teries of Pontianus and S. Felix. Salzburg Itinerary. 


THE VIA OSTIENSIS. (The road leading to Ostia.} 

After alluding to the sepulchre of S. Paul and other 
shrines, such as S. Adauctus, mention is made of a martyr 
Nomeseus, with many others (cum plurimis aliis). 

THE VIA ARDEATINA. (A road on the right or west of the 

Via Appia.) 

The " Guide " speaks of various shrines and proceeds 
to say : " Not far off lie S. Petronilla and Nereus and 
Achilles and many other martyrs." Itinerary of William 
of Malmesbury. 

THE VIA APPIA. (The " Queen of Roads " leads through 
Albano on to Capua.) 

(1) After enumerating various notable shrines, such 
as that of S. Cecilia, we read : " There we come upon a 
countless multitude of martyrs " (Ibi innumerabilis 
multitude martyrum). 

(2) Further on, mention is made of "80 nameless 
martyrs who rest here." Salzburg Itinerary. 

(i) In another " Itinerary " describing the cemeteries 


of the Appian Way we read of " 800 martyrs who are 
stated to rest in the great Callistus group of Catacombs." 

(2) And here again the expression is used, " with many 
martyrs." De Locis SS. Marty rum. 

THE VIA LATINA (leads out of the ancient Porta Capena to 

the left of the Appian Way). 

The " Itinerary " here referred to speaks of some three 
groups of cemeteries, in two of which, it states, after 
particularising some famous shrines, that " many martyrs 
rest there." De Locis SS. Martyrum. 

THE VIA LABICANA (leads out of the ancient Esquiline Gate). 

The " Pilgrim Guide " here referred to mentions 
that, in the group of cemeteries situate on this road, 
" many martyrs rest." In another place it alludes to 
" many other martyrs " ; in another, " 30 martyrs." 
Itinerary of Salzburg. 

Another " Pilgrim Guide. " tells us of " a countless 
multitude of martyrs " buried in this group of Cata 
combs. De Locis SS. Martyrum. 

Another " Itinerary," after specifying some famous 
names, mentions that here were " other martyrs un 
numbered." Itinerary of Einsiedeln. 

THE VIA TIBURTINA. (The road which through the Tiburtina 
Gate, now the Porta S. Lorenzo, leads to Tivoli.) 

The "Guide " speaks of the Church of S: Laurence 
and the two basilicas in the cemetery adjacent. It 
says : " Many martyrs rest there " ; and again, in the 
cemetery hard by, mentions " a multitude of saints " 
buried there. Itinerary of Salzburg. 

Another " Itinerary," describing these cemeteries, 
records that " with S. Cyriaca and S. Symphorosa are 
buried " many martyrs." De Locis SS. Martyrum. 

THE VIA NOMENTANA (leads out of the old Porta Collina to 
the town of Nomentum (Mentana) . The modern Porta 
Pia is close to the old gate). 

After describing the group of cemeteries lying round 
the Basilica of S. Agnes, and mentioning some of the 


better known saints, the " Itinerary " says : " Many others 
sleep there." De Locis 55. Martyrum. 

THE VIA SALARIA NOVA (leads in a northerly direction out of 
the old Porta Collina (Porta Pia now). The great 
Cemetery (Catacomb) of Priscilla is a little way out of 
the city on this road). 

The " Itinerary " is speaking of the old Basilica of 
S. Sylvester ; its ruins are in the Priscilla Catacomb. 
There, it says, " a multitude of saints rest "; and further 
on, still speaking of the same Basilica of S. Sylvester, says 
that " under the altar with certain famous confessors 
there are a multitude of saints." Itinerary of Salzburg. 

Another " Guide," writing of the great ones who rest 
in the " Priscilla " Cemetery, adds how they sleep there 
" with many saints." Hard by, the same " Guide " 
tells us how one of the confessor-sons of S. Felicitas in 
the same spot rests " with many saints " ; and again 
alludes to " the many martyrs buried there." And once 
more, speaking of the shrine of S. Sylvester, relates that 
" very many more saints and martyrs lie hard by." In 
one grave, the " Guide " adds, " 373 are buried." De 
Locis 55. Martyrum. 

William of Malmesbury, copying as we said from a 
much older " Pilgrim Guide," after enumerating the 
names of the more prominent martyrs, adds, " and there 
are innumerable other saints buried there " (alii in- 
numerabiles). William of Malmesbury. 

THE VIA SALARIA VETUS. (This road was in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the last mentioned, the " Via Solaria 

The ! Itinerary," describing the group of cemeteries on 
this road, writes, after mentioning the better known 
names of saints : " These are buried with many 
martyrs " ; and further on relates how " 230 
martyrs are interred here." De Locis 55. Martyrum. 

William of Malmesbury, writing of the same group, 
relates that " in the one grave 260 martyrs rest," and " in 
another 30." William of Malmesbury, Itinerary. 


THE VIA FLAMINIA. (This ancient road leads out of the modern 
Porta del Popolo, is a direct continuation of the 
modern Cor so. It is the great road communicating 
with North Italy.) 

There is only one Cemetery or Catacomb on this road, 
that of S. Valentinus. The " Guide " relates how the 
martyr S. Valentinus rests there together "with other 
martyrs unnamed." Itinerary of Salzburg. 

Another * Guide says : Many saints are buried here/ 
De Locis 55. Martyrum. 


Of somewhat less weight than the testimony of the 
" Itineraries " or " Pilgrim Guide " books, but still of 
great importance as throwing a strong sidelight upon 
the evidence we have massed together on the subject 
of the large numbers of the martyrs and confessors of 
Rome interred in the Catacombs, are the Monza " Catalogue " 
and " Labels " once attached to the little phials of oil 
brought to Theodelinda from the sacred shrines of Rome. 

We have elsewhere briefly described this curious and 

absolutely authentic relic. 1 Theodelinda asked for relics from 

the shrines of the Cemeteries (Catacombs) of Rome ; Pope 

Gregory the Great in the last years of the sixth century sent 

to her a little of the oil from the lamps which in his days 

were ever kept burning before each of the shrines in question. 

The original " Catalogue " (Notitia) of these oils, and the 

" Labels " (Pittacia) once attached to the phials which held 

the oils, are preserved in the Cathedral of Monza. 

The " Catalogue " (or Notitia) is preceded by the 
following words : 

" Not. de olea scorum (sanctorum) martyrum qui Romae in 
corpore requiescunt id est," etc. Here follows the List of 
Martyrs from whose shrines a little of the oil (contained 
in the lamps always burning before them) was taken. 

In several instances, notably after such names as S. Agnes, 
S. Cecilia, SS. Felix and Philippus and S. Cornelius, occur the 
following expressions : 

1 See pp. 227-8. 


" Et aliamm multarum Martyrum " " et multa millia 
scorum" (sanctorum) "etaliiSci (Sancti),idestCCLXII. J . . . 
"in unum locum et alii CXXII. et alii Sci XLVI. " "et 
aliorum multi scor " (sanctorum). 

In other words, the " Catalogue " and the " Labels " on 
the phials relate how the sacred oil was taken from lamps 
burning before the graves (the shrines) of S. Agnes and of 
" many other martyrs buried close by " ; of S. Cornelius and 
" of many thousands of saints " resting in the immediate 
neighbourhood of his tomb ; of S. Philippus and of " many 
other saints sleeping near his shrine," etc. 

In three instances the exact numbers of the nameless 
martyrs are given, viz. : 262, 122, and 46. The expression 
" many thousands " which occurs in this venerable memorial 
of the reverent feeling of Christians of the sixth century 
towards the noble and devoted confessors of the Faith, is of 
course an exaggerated one ; it may even be termed a rhetorical 
expression ; but it bears its undoubted testimony to the deeply 
rooted belief of Christians who lived in the centuries which 
immediately followed the Peace of the Church, that in this 
sacred City of the Roman dead an enormous number of 
martyrs was buried, besides those whose names and stories 
were, as it were, household words in every land where Jesus 
Christ was adored. 


There is a celebrated inscription of Pope Damasus (A.D. 
366-84) preserved in one of the collections of the epitaphs 
he placed in the Catacombs (the Sylloge Palestina), an in 
scription originally placed in the Papal Crypt of the " Callis- 
tus " Cemetery, which speaks especially of "a number of 
martyrs buried together " near that sacred spot. The epitaph 
commences as follows : 

"Hie congesta jacet quaeris si turba piorum 
Corpora sanctorum retinent vcneranda sepulchra 
Sublimes animas rapuit sibi Regia cocli." 1 

1 Allard translates these lines : " Si vous voulez savoir, ici reposent 
amonceles les ossements d un grand nombre des saints ; ces venerables 
tombeaux gardent les corps des elus dont le royaume des cieux a tire a lui 


Prudentius (Perist. i. 73) (end of fourth century) beautifully 
alludes to the veil of oblivion which has fallen over the hidden 
graves of these numberless nameless martyrs : 

"O vetustatis silentis obsoleta oblivio 
Invidentur ista nobis, fama et ipsa extinguitur. " 

And again (Perist. ii.) : 

"Vix Fama nota est, abditis 
Quam plena sanctis Roma sit, 
Quam dives urbanum solum 
Sacri sepulchris floreat." 

The martyrs traditionally interred in the various Cata 
combs of Rome, and whose graves were reverently and per 
sistently visited by crowds of pilgrims to Rome from foreign 
lands after the Peace of the Church during the fourth, fifth, 
and following centuries, represent the victims of the various 
periods of persecution during the first three centuries. 

It is by no means intended to press the traditional state 
ments contained in the Pilgrim Itineraries quoted in this 
chapter respecting the vast number of martyrs interred in 
the Catacombs of Rome. 

These statements are probably somewhat exaggerated, 
but the undisputed fact remains that a very great number 
of these victims of the various persecutions were certainly 
interred in this hallowed city of the dead ; and the unvarying 
tradition of the number of martyrs so interred must be taken 
into account, and gravely reckoned with, wherever the "question 
of the number of Christian victims is considered. 

les ames sublimes." " Des polyandres, ou tombes consacrees a des centaines, 
peut-etre a des milliers de corps, s ouvrai en t en plusieurs parties des catacombes. 
Ces tombes etaient toujours anonymes, remplies de martyrs quorum 
nomina scit Omnipotens selon 1 expression du Pope Pascal." ..." M. De 
Rossi croit reconnaitre dans une fosse profonde qui s ouvre sous la niche 
profonde a gauche de 1 autel dans la chapelle Papale . . . le polyandre 
celebre ou reposaient, selon d anciens documents, une multitude innombrable 
de martyrs enterres ad sanctam Caeciliam. " (See Allard, Rome Souteraine 
(Northcote & Brownlow), Cimetieve de Calliste, 216-18; and see too note on 
p. 218.) 




I. 6 


AN absolutely reliable source of information respecting the 
secret of the inner life of the Church in the early 
Christian centuries is the faithful record of the thoughts, 
the hopes, the aspirations of the congregations of the Church 
of the metropolis of the Empire, carved and painted on the 
countless graves of the subterranean corridors and chambers of 
the Catacombs of Rome. 

" The popular, the actual belief of a generation or society 
of men cannot always be ascertained from the contemporary 
writers, who belong for the most part to another stratum. 
The belief of a people is something separate from the books or 
the watchwords of parties. It is in the air. It is in their 
intimate conversation. We must hear, especially in the case 
of the simple and unlearned, what they talk of to each other. 
We must sit by their bedsides, get at what gives them most 
consolation, what most occupies their last moments. This, 
whatever it be, is the belief of the people, right or wrong ; this 
and this only, is their real religion. . . . Now, is it possible to 
ascertain this concerning the early Christians ? 

The books of that period are few and far between, and 
those books are for the most part the works of learned scholars 
rather than of popular writers. Can we, apart from these 
books, discover what was their most real and constant repre 
sentation of their dearest hopes here and hereafter ? Strange 
to say, after all this lapse of time (getting on for ;ome two 
thousand years) it is possible ; the answer, at any rate, for that 
large mass of Christians from all parts of the Empire that was 

collected in the capital, the answer is to be found in the Roman 



Catacombs," 1 that great city of the dead which lies beneath 
the soil of the immediate suburbs of imperial Rome. This city 
of the dead certainly contains several hundred miles of streets 
of tombs, and the tombs at least contain three or more millions 
of silent dwellers ! 

In this resting-place of the dead the community of Rome, 
by far the greatest of the Christian churches who professed 
the faith of Jesus, for some two centuries and a half reverently 
laid their dear ones as they passed from the stir of busy restless 
Roman life into the unseen world. There in these Catacombs 
they used to pray often, very often in the years of persecution ; 
there they used to hear the teaching of Duty, of Hope and Faith 
from the lips of some chosen master, and it is from the words 
written orgraven upon the innumerable tombs in the Catacombs 
that we gather what was the real belief of these early congrega 
tions what their sure hopes and aspirations. In these silent 
streets, on the walls of the countless sepulchral chambers, they 
loved to paint pictures and to grave short epitaphs telling of 
these same cherished hopes. Some of these pictures and 
epitaphs, often dim and discoloured, often mutilated, are with 
us still. Not a few of the artists who worked there were 
evidently men of no mean power in their noble craft. 

Ruined, desecrated, spoiled though it now is, with only 
comparatively small portions accessible at all what a treasure- 
house for the scholar is this silent group of cemeteries ! 

A careful study of the more recent discoveries in the Cata 
combs throws much light on the opinions and thoughts of the 
Christians of the first and second centuries, showing us that the 
current of early Christian thought not unfrequently ran in a 
somewhat different channel to the stream of thoughts presented 
to us by the contemporary writers of that very early period. 
It must, however, be insisted on that the cardinal doctrines 
of the Faith taught by the weightiest of the first Christian 
writers were absolutely identical with the belief of the Christians 
of the Roman Catacombs. If anything, the supreme divinity 
of the Son of God His love for, His care for men, is emphasised 
more emphatically, if it be possible, in the silent teaching 
than in the fervid dogmatism of the great Catholic writers. 

1 Dean Stanley of Westminster. 


To enable the reader fairly to grasp something of the vast 
extent, the nature, and importance of these Catacombs of 
Rome, whose silent witness to the " Inner Life " of the early 
Church is invoked, this Fourth Book will give: (i) a brief descrip 
tion of the way in which the investigations into this wonderful 
" City of the Dead " in later years has been carried out by 
careful scholars and experts ; (2) a general and somewhat 
detailed account of the situation and features of the several 
Catacombs, dwelling especially on the more important of these 
cemeteries ; (3) the teaching contained in the inscriptions, 
carvings, and paintings on the graves in the Catacomb corridors. 


SINCE the date of what may be termed the rediscovery of 
the Catacombs in the vineyard on the Via Salaria in 
1578 1 the work of excavation and research in the streets 
of the City of the Dead which lies beneath the suburbs of 
Rome has been slowly and somewhat fitfully carried on, 
exciting generally but little public interest, and until the last 
fifty years, roughly speaking, has been most mischievous and 

It is probable that more destruction and havoc have been 
wrought by the well-meaning but ill-directed efforts of the 
explorer than were occasioned by the raids of the barbarians 
in the sixth and two following centuries and by the slow 
wear and sap of time. 

Among these, Bosio, A.D. 1593-1629, the pioneer of the 
Catacomb explorers, occupies one of the few honourable 
places ; his method of working was in many respects scientific. 
He was no mere explorer, working haphazard, but he guided 
his labours by carefully sifting all the information he could 
procure of the past history of the vast subterranean 
necropolis. But, after all, the materials of this history which 

1 It was in the year of grace 1578 that some workmen digging out sand in 
a vineyard about a mile from Rome on the Via Salaria came upon the gallery 
of a subterranean cemetery, with dim paintings and many ancient inscriptions 
upon the walls. 

This striking discovery excited much curiosity at the time, and the world 
of Rome, recalling to mind the long-forgotten story of the Catacombs, became 
suddenly conscious that beneath its suburbs lay a vast unexplored City of 
the Dead. 



he could get together were scanty when compared with the 
materials possessed by scholars of our day and time, and in 
consequence many of the conclusions to which this pioneer 
of Catacomb research came to were erroneous. 

But in his manner of working Bosio had no successors. 
As a rule, since that really illustrious scholar and searcher has 
passed away, alas ! a very different method has been with rare 
exceptions followed by explorers of the Catacombs, and owing 
to the careless and ill-regulated excavations which have been 
fitfully carried on during some 200 and more years, irreparable 
damage has been done, and the losses to this deeply important 
branch of early Christian history are simply incalculable. 

The general results of this unfortunate exploration work 
in the past have been summarised as follows : 

During this long period roughly from A.D. 1629 to about 
the middle of the nineteenth century, some 220 years the 
chief object and aim of Catacomb exploration were to procure 
relics ; when these were once carried away, no heed was 
paid to the crypts, or to the streets of graves. The records 
of the excavations kept were scanty and utterly insignificant, 
and each Catacomb from which the relics were taken was 
left in a state of utter ruin and deplorable confusion. The 
result of these searchings of 220 years has been that few dis 
coveries were made of any real importance to early Christian 
history or archaeology. At last De Rossi, in the middle years 
of the nineteenth century, took in hand seriously the study 
and scientific exploration of the vast Christian necropolis of 

De Rossi was the friend and pupil of Father Marchi, 
an indefatigable student of the Catacombs who was really im 
pressed with the possibilities of a more careful exploration 
than had hitherto been undertaken. Marchi s real title to 
honour will ever be that he imbued his pupil with a passionate 
love of the work to which he has devoted a long and strenuous 

The great City of the Dead, largely thanks to De Rossi s 
lifelong labours, is to us something far more than a vast 
museum of inscriptions and memorials, the work of the Chris 
tian congregations in Rome during the first two and a half 


centuries which followed the preaching and martyrdom of 
SS. Peter and Paul. It is true that most important is the 
testimony of these precious relics to the earliest popular 
estimate of Christianity : we shall dwell later on the wonder 
ful witness which the numberless inscriptions and strange 
emblems painted and graven on the tombs bear to the faith 
and belief of the early Church ; but the eminent Roman 
scholar of whom we are speaking has taught us that there 
was more than even the witness of these precious inscriptions 
and emblems to be gathered from a patient study of the 
Catacomb secret. 

De Rossi believed, and the splendid results of his long 
toil have strikingly verified his belief, that amidst the ruined 
and desolated streets of graves the historic crypts of the more 
famous and illustrious martyrs of Christ, of the men and 
women who during the first two centuries and a half through 
pain and agony passed to their rest and won their crowns, 
could be found and identified, and that thus a new and striking 
proof would be furnished of the truth of much of the martyr 
story of the early Church. 

The official records of well-nigh all the Roman martyrdoms 
of the age of persecution, we know, were destroyed by the 
imperial government in the days of Diocletian. The martyr- 
ologies or histories of these heroes and heroines of the 
faith of Jesus which have come down to us, it is well known, 
were with a few notable exceptions for the most part largely 
composed some two or even more centuries after the events 
they relate had happened, and have in consequence been 
treated by careful Christian scholars as not dependable sources 
of early Christian history ; this has been conceded by the 
most scholarly of the devout Christian students. 

De Rossi s great work, however, strange to say, has 
curiously rehabilitated very many of these long-discredited 
martyr stories, 1 and has clearly shown us that not a few of 
the more important of these have been absolutely founded on 
fact ; of course, some of the various details as recounted in these 
martyrologies are more or less legendary, but the great car 
dinal fact of the existence, of the life-work and suffering, 

1 Refer here to pp. 289-297, " Crypt of S. Cecilia." 


and noble testimony to the faith sealed with their life-blood, 
of these true servants of the adored Master, is positively 
established by what has been found in the last fifty years 
in the Roman city of the Christian dead. 

De Rossi and his companions have indeed given us a 
perfectly new and most striking page in the history of this early 
Christian Church. 


It will be of special interest briefly to glance over the 
principal portion of the materials which De Rossi made use 
of as his guide during his long forty years labours in the 
exploration of the Catacombs. First in order must be taken 
what may be termed the literature bearing on the City of the 

The most important of these pieces are 

1. The Acts of the Martyrs. These have already been 
alluded to as possessing, save in a few instances, little historic 
authority, as they were mostly composed two centuries or 
even more after the events which they purported to relate 
happened. But they were not without their value to the Cata 
comb explorers, for it must be remembered that when these 
" Acts " were put together in the form we now possess them, 
in the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, the Catacombs were still 
an object of eager pilgrimage from all lands, and many of the 
details in these " Acts " evidently were based on an historical 
tradition, such as the place exactly where the martyr of the 
" Acts " was buried ; such a detail, for instance, served as a 
guide to the explorer. 

2. The Martyr ology of S. Jerome a compilation dating 
from about the middle of the sixth century, but certainly 
containing memoranda of an earlier date. 

3. The (so-called) Liber Pontificals a generally reliable 
and most interesting work, the earlier portion of which has been 
largely used throughout Western Christendom, certainly since 
the sixth century. The first part of this work contains bio 
graphical notices of the Bishops of Rome from the days of S. 
Peter to the times of Pope Nicholas, A.D. 807. The earliest 
redaction of the first Papal notices in the Liber Pontificalis 


which has come down to us was made towards the end of 
the fifth century, or in the first years of the sixth. But it is 
evidently based on records of a much older date preserved 
in the Roman Church. 

4. But what De Rossi found most valuable for the purposes 
of his great work was a group of writings known as Itineraries 
of Pilgrims. These were founded on hand-books composed 
for the use of devout pilgrims from Britain, Gaul, Spain, 
Germany, and Switzerland, men and women who \vere de 
sirous to see and to pay their devotions at the celebrated 
shrines of Rome. 

Some five at least of these precious Pilgrim Itineraries or 
Guide-Books to the more celebrated shrines or places where 
martyrs were interred in the vast Roman City of the Dead 
have come down to us. They have proved of the highest value 
to De Rossi in his exploration work. The first perhaps in value 
of these is contained in the works of William of Malmesbury, 
which treat of the doings of the Crusaders in Rome. William 
of Malmesbury wrote in the year of grace 1095. But the 
Itinerary section in question speaks of the martyr saints as 
though they were still resting in their Catacomb graves, although 
we know that they had been translated into churches in the 
city about three centuries earlier. This clearly shows that the 
" Itinerary " section had been written several centuries before 
the writer William of Malmesbury lived and copied it into 
his work. 

Other Pilgrim Itineraries have been found in famous 
monastic libraries, such as in the libraries of Einsiedeln and 
Salzburg. These may be roughly dated about the middle of 
the seventh century, that is, before the days of the Pontificate 
of Paul i, A.D. 757, and Paschal i, A.D. 817, when the wholesale 
translation of the remains of the martyrs from the Catacombs 
to the securer shelter of the city churches took place. These 
were therefore written in a period when the traditions connected 
with the historic crypts and their venerated contents were all 
comparatively fresh and vivid. 

In the same category with the Pilgrim Itineraries which the 
great Roman scholar has found so helpful in his Catacomb 
researches must be placed the celebrated papyrus preserved 


in the Cathedral of Monza. This is a contemporary catalogue 
or list of the sacred oils sent by Pope Gregory the Great 
(A.D. 590-604) to Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards. The 
Lombard Queen sent a special messenger, one Abbot John, 
to Pope Gregory the Great asking him for relics of the saints 
buried in the Catacombs. At that period no portions of the 
sacred bodies were allowed to be removed, even at the 
request of so powerful a petitioner as Theodelinda ; but as a 
substitute the Pope sent a little of the oil which fed the lamps 
which were ever kept burning before the tombs or shrines of 
the saints in question. 

Each phial containing the oil was carefully ticketed or 
labelled, and a list of these tickets or labels was written on this 
Monza papyrus. Some sixty or seventy saints shrines are 
specially enumerated, besides about eight places mentioned 
before which oils were kept burning, before tombs which con 
tained a crowd of unnamed saints and martyrs. 

This Monza catalogue of the sacred oils De Rossi carefully 
compared with the topographical notices in the Pilgrim 
Itineraries above referred to. It was of great service to the 
scholar explorer in discovering and identifying many of the 
principal sanctuaries of the Catacombs. 

Another and quite a different material for his investigations 
De Rossi found amidst the desolate Catacombs themselves : 
he noticed that certain unmistakable indications ever marked 
tiie near neighbourhood of some historic crypt. 

i. The existence above ground of more or less ruined 
basilicas of various dimensions, in some cases showing the 
remains of a considerable building, in others of a comparatively 
small edifice as of a chapel or an oratory. Such a ruined building 
evidently pointed to there being beneath the soil, at times deep 
down, an historic crypt of importance. Such a small basilica 
or oratory had no doubt been built after the Peace of the 
Church in the middle or latter years of the fourth or in the fifth 
century, when pilgrimage to the shrines of the saints and 
martyrs had become the fashion. It was intended to accom 
modate the ever-growing crowds who came often from distant 
countries to pray near and to venerate the saints and martyrs 
whose remains lay buried in the crypt immediately beneath. 


2. The remains, more or less perfect, of a staircase or stair 
cases leading down to the sacred crypt containing a tomb of 
some great confessor known and honoured in the tradition 
of the Church. 

3. The presence of a "luminare" or shaft, sometimes of 
considerable size, which was constructed to give light and air 
to a subterranean chamber in the Catacombs, indicated that in 
the immediate neighbourhood of the " luminare " an historic 
crypt had once existed. These openings or shafts were mostly 
the work of Pope Damasus and his successors in the latter 
years of the fourth and in the earlier years of the fifth centuries. 

4. Below in some of the ruined corridors of tombs and 
in certain of the cubicula or separate chambers leading out 
of the corridors on the walls a number of " graffiti " or 
inscriptions, often very rudely graved or painted, are visible, 
some of the inscriptions or questions being simply a name, 
others containing a brief prayer for the writer or for one 
dear to the writer. It was evident that the presence of sutii 
inscriptions indicated the immediate neighbourhood of an 
historic crypt which once contained the remains of a revered 
" great one," not unfrequently the name of the " great 
one " was included in some of the graffiti. 

Such " graffiti " were clearly the work of the many pilgrims 
to the Catacombs in the fifth and following centuries. 

5. In certain of the cubicula or separate chambers leading 
out of the corridors, remains of paintings, evidently of a period 
much later than the original Catacomb work, are discernible 
paintings which belong to the Byzantine rather than to 
any classical school of art, and which cannot be dated earlier 
than the sixth or seventh centuries. The existence of such 
later decorative work clearly indicated that the spot so 
adorned was one of traditional sanctity, and no doubt had 
been the resting-place of a venerated saint and martyr. 

6. In his " materials " for the identification of the 
historic crypts De Rossi found the inscriptions of Pope 
Damasus, who died A.D. 384, of the greatest assistance. 

Damasus love for and work in the Catacombs is well 
known. He was a considerable poet, and precious fragments 
of poetical inscriptions composed by him have been found 


in many of the more important Catacombs which have been 
explored. These inscriptions were engraved on marble 
tablets by his friend and skilful artist Furius Dionysius 
Filocalus in clear beautiful characters. These fragments 
have been in many cases put together, and where the broken 
pieces were wanting have been wonderfully restored with the 
aid of " syllogae " or collections of early Christian inscriptions 
gathered mostly in the ninth century by the industry of the 
monks. These " syllogrc " or collections have preserved 
for us some forty of the inscriptions of Pope Damasus in 
honour of martyrs and confessors buried in the Catacombs. 
With perhaps one solitary exception, they are all written 
in hexameter verse. 

Such collections of early Christian inscriptions have 
been preserved in the libraries of such monasteries as 
Einsiedeln, S. Riquier, S. Gall, etc. 

The result of the forty years of De Rossi s researches and 
work in the Catacombs, based on the above-mentioned histor 
ical documents and on the evidence derived from what he 
found in the ruined corridors of tombs and the chambers 
leading out of them, has been that, whereas before his time 
at most three important historical crypts were known, now 
already more than fifteen 1 of these have been clearly identified, 
a wonderful and striking proof of the reality of the sufferings 
and constancy of the heroes and heroines of the faith in the 
first two hundred and fifty years of the existence of the religion 
of Jesus sufferings and constancy which resulted in the final 
triumph of Christianity. 

Briefly to enumerate just a very few of the more prominent 
later historical discoveries which have lifted much of the early 
history and inner life of the great Church of the Roman 
congregations from the domain of tradition into the realm 
of scientific history 

In the first century the discoveries in the cemeteries of 
Domitilla and Priscilla. The long-disputed story of Nereus 
and Achilles ; the existence and fate of the two Domitillas, 
kinswomen of the imperial house ; the Christianity and 

1 Several additional discoveries of historic crypts have been made since 
this computation was made. 


martyrdom of the patrician Acilius Glabrio the Consul, have 
been largely authenticated. 

In the second century the discovery of the tombs of SS. 
Felicitas and Cecilia, of the grave of S. Januarius, the eldest 
son of Felicitas, 1 substantiate the existence and death of the 
famous martyrs, whose very existence has been doubted 
even by earnest Christian students, and whose life-story has 
been generally relegated to the sphere of religious romance. 

In the early years of the third century the wonderful 
" find " of the Papal Crypt in the Callistus Cemetery, and the 
ruined remains of the tombs of several of the Bishops of Rome, 
confessors and martyrs, bear irrefragable testimony to the 
truth of records of early Christian history, and set a seal 
upon tradition hitherto only held with but a half-hearted 
confidence. In the middle years of the same century the 
identification of the tombs of Agnes and her foster-sister 
Emerentiana re-placed in the pages of serious history scenes 
often quoted in early martyrology, but which competent 
Christian critics had long relegated to the region of the merely 
legendary. The exploration and labours of De Rossi and his 
band of fellow-workers and pupils have also thrown a flood 
of light on the days of the fierce continuous persecution 
of the Emperor Diocletian, and have opened out to publicity 
a number of tombs of nameless martyrs who suffered under 
the iron hand of imperial Rome in the bloody times of that 
last and fiercest of attacks on Christianity. And besides the 
many nameless graves of a great multitude of martyrs and 
confessors who suffered under Diocletian, these explorations 
have identified the tombs of not a few of the more famous 
Christian leaders who witnessed a good confession at that 
same dread epoch, notably the resting-places of Peter and 
Marcellinus, of the Roman bishops Caius and Eusebius, 
of Marcus and Marcellinus. " A very glorious group of monu 
ments a group, too, which we may well expect to become 
larger and more far-reaching in its teaching, for innumerable 
crypts are still waiting to be explored and searched out. Each 

1 Other tombs of the famous martyr-sons of Felicitas have since been 
identified, and much knowledge of this incident in early Christian history has 
been brought to light. 


of the ancient roads leading from the immemorial capital 
of Italy, and once of the world ; each historic cemetery or 
catacomb contains such a crypt with its central shrine of 
some once well-known martyr or illustrious confessor of the 

So writes Marucchi, one of the foremost of the living 
Roman scholars in Catacomb lore, the disciple and successor of 
De Rossi. (These words were written in the year of grace 1903.) 

Following closely upon the notices contained in the Pilgrim 
Itineraries of the seventh and eighth centuries, De Rossi, in a 
catalogue carefully composed, enumerates thirty-seven ceme 
teries or Catacombs. Several, however, of these have not been 
clearly identified. One or two of them are very small ; while 
others, apparently extending over a wide area, communicate 
with one another ; and some are very imperfectly known, others 
as yet quite unexplored 


It will be an assistance to the student wishing to grasp 
something of the vast extent of the great subterranean City 
of the Dead, and desirous to arrive at some idea of the present 
knowledge of the mighty Christian necropolis of the first days, 
if a brief sketch of the known cemeteries and their more im 
portant crypts is presented. 

The sketch will deal with each of the " Viae " or public 
roads leading out of Rome, in the immediate neighbourhood 
of which the different cemeteries or Catacombs have been 
excavated, each public road having its own special group 
of cemeteries, lying hard by beneath the vineyards or gardens 
abutting on the road. 


Naturally, the cemetery on the Vatican Hill, which includes 
the tomb of S. Peter, must be mentioned first. The whole 
district of the Vatican in the days of Nero (middle years 
of the first century of the Christian era) was covered with 
gardens and villas ; it communicated directly with the city by 


means of the Pons Triumphalis, afterwards termed the Pons 
Neronianus, and was traversed by the Via Triumphalis and 
the Via Cornelia. Between these two roads the Apostle S. 
Peter was buried. The Pilgrim Itineraries describe the sacred 
tomb now as " juxta viam Corneliam " now as " juxta viam 
Triumphalem." Directly over the apostle s tomb 1 Anacletus, 
the Bishop of Rome, third in succession, erected a "Memoria" 
or little chapel. This "Memoria" or Chapel of Anacletus 
grew into the lordly basilica known subsequently as S. Peter s 
at Rome. 

The tomb in question is situated close by the spot where 
without doubt the apostle suffered martyrdom in the year of 
grace 67. Around the tomb of S. Peter, as we shall see, 
were buried the nine or ten first Bishops or Popes of Rome, 
as well as other nameless saints once famous in the early years 
of the story of the Roman congregations. 

It is doubtful if there wns ever a Catacomb, as we under 
stand the term, on the Vatican Hill. No trace of subterranean 
corridors, or of chambers leading out of the corridors, have 
been found ; only, it must be remembered that the neighbour 
hood of the tomb of S. Peter and the early Bishops of Rome 
has been completely changed owing to the excavations neces 
sary for the foundations of the great basilica erected over 
the little Memoria of Anacletus by Constantine the Great in 
the first half of the fourth century. 


The Via Aurelia Vetus was probably originally laid out 
by C. Aurelius, Censor in the year of grace 512. It started 
from the Janiculum (the modern Gate of S. Pancras) and led 
directly towards the sea-board. It was the road from Rome 
to Centumcelke (Civita Vecchia). 

The cemeteries along the Via Aurelia have been as yet very 

1 The tomb of S. Peter and its surroundings will be described at length in 
Appendix II., which follows the section treating of the "Catacombs," where 
is related the thrilling story of what was discovered when the excavations 
required for the support of the great bronze canopy of Bernini over the tomb 
of S. Peter were made in A.D. 1626, in the pontificate of Urban vm. 
(Appendix II., S. Peter, pp. 279-88.) 


imperfectly explored. 1 The ancient Pilgrim Itineraries 
mention four distinct cemeteries here, (i) That of SS. 
Processus and Martinianus, first century. (2) S. Calepodius 
or S. Callistus, third century. (3) S. Pancratius, fourth 
century. (4) The two Felixes, fourth century. 

Cemetery of SS. Processus and Martinianus. (Apos 
tolic age.) Tradition relates that these saints were the 
gaolers of S. Peter, and owed their conversion to their 
prisoner. They suffered martyrdom shortly after S. Peter s 
death, being decapitated on the Via Aurelia ; Lucina, a 
wealthy Roman matron, buried them in her garden near the 
place of their martyrdom. This Lucina was probably the 
same \vho gave her name to the ancient cemetery on the Via 
Appia, and which now forms part of the great network of 
cemeteries known generally as S. Callistus Catacomb. 

Very little is known of this Catacomb. Among the net 
work of sepulchral corridors on this portion of the Via Aurelia 
this special cemetery has not as yet been clearly identified. 

These cemeteries are in a sadly ruined condition. The 
loculi which have been examined are evidently of a very early 
period. Marucchi, in pleading for a more detailed exploration 
here, suggests the probability of some " Memories " of S. 
Peter being eventually discovered. 

Cemetery of S. Calepodius. This saint appears to have 
been a priest who suffered martyrdom, probably in a popular 
rising, in the reign of Alexander Severus (A.D. 222-35). This 
cemetery is principally famous as being the resting-place of 
Pope Callistus, who also suffered in a popular rising, A.D. 222, 
and was laid to rest in this cemetery, perhaps as being nearer to 
the scene of his martyrdom than the official Papal Crypt on 
the Via Appia to which he gave his name. The exploration 
work here, as far as it has gone, has been carried out with 
difficulty owing to the ruinous state of the corridors. 

Cemetery of S. Pancratius. S. Pancras was a boy-martyr 
twelve, or as some accounts give fourteen years of age when in 
A.D. 304 he suffered for his faith in the Diocletian persecution. 

This cemetery was in the first instance known under the 
name of Octa villa, a Christian matron who buried the young 

1 Marucchi, Itincraire des Catacombes, A.D. 1903. 


confessor in her garden on the Aurelian Way. It had probably 
been a cemetery before the deposition of the remains of the 
famous boy-martyr gave it a new name and not a little celebrity. 

The story of S. Pancras has ever been an attractive one, and 
a certain number of churches named in his honour are scattered 
over many lands. A small basilica was built over the crypt 
containing his grave. Pope Siricius (end of fourth century) 
restored and adorned it. Honorius i, A. D. 620, rebuilt it. In 
the present Church of S. Pancras there are scarcely any traces 
of the original basilica. The remains of the martyr have 
disappeared. Strange to say, in the great translation of the 
ashes of saints and martyrs by Pope Paul I and Paschal i, 
S. Pancras was left undisturbed in his tomb. The corridors, 
however, have been completely wrecked, and have been very 
partially explored. 

The site of the cemeteries mentioned in the Pilgrim 
Itineraries, named after two saints each bearing the name of 
Felix, has not been discovered. 


This road leads from the old Porta Navalis in the Trastevere, 
the city " across the Tiber/ direct to Portus the port of Rome, 
a construction of Claudius when Ostia (Centumcellae) was 
unable to cope with the commerce of the capital. Three 
cemeteries, according to the ancient Itineraries, were excavated 
on the Via Portuensis. That of Pontianus, the best known of 
the three, where lie the remains of SS. Abdon and Sennen ; and 
a second, nearly five miles from the city, the Catacomb of 
Generosa. There is a third, the Cemetery of S. Felix, the 
position of which has not yet been discovered. 

The Cemetery of Pontianus. Pontianus was a wealthy 
Christian of the Trastevere quarter, who used in the second 
century probably in the latter years of the century to 
gather his fellow-Christians to prayer and teaching in his house. 
The cemetery which bears his name was originally excavated 
in one of his gardens. The old Pilgrim Itineraries speak of 
there being a vast number of martyrs in this Catacomb " in- 
numerabilis multitude Martyrum." Several of these are 


named ; the most notable, however, are the two noble Persians, 
Abdon and Sennen, who, visiting Rome at the time of the 
persecution of Decius, suffered for their faith. 

In this Catacomb there is a well-known ancient baptistery 
of considerable size, which was richly decorated in the sixth 
century. Such baptisteries have been found in other Cata 
combs, notably in that of S. Priscilla, a very ancient and vast 
cemetery which will be described with some detail later. 

The remains of the more famous martyrs were removed into 
the city at the period of the great translation of sacred bodies 
in the ninth century, after which date this cemetery ceased to 
be visited. It has only been partially explored. 

The Cemetery of S. Felix mentioned in the Itineraries is 
completely unknown as yet. 

The Cemetery of Generosa, on the road to Porta, is not 
alluded to in the Pilgrim Guides, no doubt owing to its distance 
some five miles from the city. Lanciani gives a vivid 
description of its story and of its discovery in 1867. It is of 
small extent, and apparently was excavated in the persecution 
of Diocletian, circa A.D. 303, in what was once a sacred grove 
belonging to the College of the Arval Brothers, but which had 
been abandoned, probably after the dissolution of the Brother 
hood, which is supposed to have taken place about the middle 
of the third century. 



The Via Ostiensis, on the city side of the Tiber, one of the 
principal roads of the Empire, begins at the ancient Porta 
Ostiensis, known from the sixth century onwards as the Porta 
S. Pauli, and leads to the old harbour of Ostia. The Pilgrim 
Itineraries enumerate three cemeteries as situated hard by this 
road the tomb of the Apostle S. Paul with the little Cemetery 
of Lucina, the Cemetery of Commodilla, and that of S. Theckla. 

(i) According to a very general tradition, S. Paul suffered 
martyrdom, A.D. 67, and his body was laid in a tomb on the 
Ostian Way in a garden belonging to a Christian lady named 
Lucina, some identify her with the " Lucina " of the Cemetery 


of Callistus on the Appian Way. There it rested, according 
to the most recent investigations, until the persecution and 
confiscation of the cemeteries in A.D. 258, when for security s 
sake it was secretly removed at the same time as the body of S. 
Peter was brought from the grave on the Vatican Hill. The 
sacred remains of the two apostles were laid in the " Platonia " 
Crypt, in what was subsequently known as the Catacomb of 
S. Sebastian, on the Via Appia ; and probably after an interval 
of some two years, when the cemeteries were restored to the 
Christian congregations by the Emperor Gallerius, the bodies 
of the two apostles were brought back again to their original 

Anacletus, the third in succession of the Roman bishops, 
erected in the first century a small " Memoria " or chapel over 
the tomb of S. Paul, like the one he built over the tomb of 
S. Peter on the Vatican Hill. 

In the year 324-5 the first Christian Emperor, Constant ine, 
over the apostle s tomb and little " Memoria/ caused the 
first important basilica, known as S. Paul s, to be erected ; the 
Emperor treated the loculus or sarcophagus of S. Paul in the 
same manner as he had treated the sarcophagus of S. Peter, 
enclosing it in a solid bronze coffin, on which he laid a cross of 
gold. When the basilica was rebuilt, after the fire of A.D. 1813, 
a marble slab, which apparently was a part of the vaulted roof 
of the original sepulchral chamber of the apostle, came to light. 
On this slab, or rather slabs of marble, which now lie directly 
under the altar, are engraved the simple words Pavlo Apostolo 
Mart : the inscription evidently dating from the days of 
Constantine (A.D. 324-5). No further investigation of the 
tomb was permitted. It is believed that the bronze sarco 
phagus with its sacred contents, with the golden cross, lie 
immediately under the solid masonry upon which the slab of 
marble we have been speaking of rests. 

On the slab of marble in question, besides the simple in 
scription above quoted, are three apertures : the most im 
portant of these is circular ; it is, in fact, a little well, and is 
23^ inches in depth, and was no doubt originally what is 
termed the " billicum confessionis," through which hand 
kerchiefs and other objects were lowered, so as to be hallowed 


by resting for a brief space on the sarcophagus when access 
to the vault itself was not permitted. The other two 
apertures or little wells are only 12 1 and 8 inches deep 
respectively. It is not known for what purpose these two 
were intended. 

The history of the famous basilica is as follows. Lanciani 
writes how " wonder has been manifested at the behaviour 
of Constantine the Great towards S. Paul, whose basilica 
at the second milestone of the Via Ostiensis appears like a 
pigmy structure in comparison with that which he erected over 
the tomb of S. Peter. Constantine had no intention of placing 
S. Paul in an inferior rank, or of showing less honour to his 
memory." In his original design which he carried out, the 
high road to Ostia ran close by the grave ; thus the space at 
his disposal was limited. But before the fourth century had 
run out it was imperatively felt that the Church of S. Paul 
ought to be equal in size and beauty to that on the Vatican 
Hill : so, in rebuilding the basilica the original plan was 
changed by the Emperor Valentinian n., in A.D. 386. The 
tomb and the altar above it were left undisturbed, a great 
arch was raised above the altar, and westwards from that 
point, in the direction of the Tiber, a vast church was built. 
The great work was continued by Theodosius and completed 
by Honorius, and the splendid decorative work finally carried 
out by Honorius sister, the famous Placidia, who died in 
A.D. 450. Certain Popes, notably Gregory the Great, and 
later Honorius in, in A.D. 1226, added to the decorations of 

There was evidently in very early times a cemetery around 
the crypt which contained the body of S. Paul ; this was the 
original Cemetery of Lucina. But it has been disturbed by 
the subsequent erection of the Basilica of Constantine, and 
later by the far larger church begun under Valentinian n. 
It is hoped that a future careful exploration of the cemetery 
will bring to light much that is at present unknown. 

(2) Cemetery of Commodilla is situated on the left of 
the Via Ostiensis on the road of the Seven Churches. Com 
modilla was evidently a wealthy Roman lady who, like many 
other Christians of position and means, gave up her garden 


to the Christian dead. Nothing, however, is known of her 

Two martyrs, SS. Felix and Adauctus, once well known 
in Christian story, were interred here. They belong to the 
time of Diocletian. This Catacomb, apparently of consider 
able extent, is only very imperfectly known. The Martyr- 
ologies mention other " confessors " buried here, but the 
corridors are either earthed up or are in a state of ruin and 
confusion, and any thorough investigation would be a costly 
and difficult piece of work. 

(3) Cemetery of 5. Thekla. Nothing is known of the 
martyr who has given her name to this Catacomb ; who 
must not, however, be confounded with the celebrated saint 
of the same name who belongs to Lycaonia, and is tradition 
ally connected with S. Paul. This cemetery has been but 
imperfectly examined as yet ; its extent is unknown. 


The Via Ardeatina lies a little distance to the right of the 
Via Appia, from which it branches off close to the Church of 
" Domine quo vadis," the traditional scene of the appearance 
of the Lord to S. Peter. In the immediate neighbourhood 
of the Via Ardeatina and the Via Appia lie, roughly speaking 
scarcely two miles from the city, the wonderful group of ceme 
teries generally known under the names of Domitilla and 
Callistus. These include the Cemetery of Lucina really an 
area of Callistus, the Cemeteries of SS. Marcus and Balbinus 
and also that of S. Soteris. This enormous network of sub 
terranean corridors, chambers, and chapels are all more or 
less united by passages and corridors (though this is not quite 
certain) ; but much is as yet unexplored, and the line? of de 
marcation between the several Catacombs uncertain. Recent 
careful investigations of De Rossi, Armellini, Marucchi, and 
others less known have, however, led to the discovery of certain 
great and notable historic crypts, centres round which the 
network of corridors are grouped. These identifications have 
thrown a flood of light upon the very early history of the 
numerous and influential Roman congregations ; much that 


was supposed to be purely legendary and fabulous has passed, 
as we have observed, into the domain of real history. Very 
briefly we will touch on a few of the more remarkable 
" rinds." 

Cemetery of Domitilla. The famous group of Catacombs 
known under this general title perhaps with the sole excep 
tion of the Cemetery of S. Priscilla and the Cemetery of 
S. Callistus, hereafter to be described, is the vastest of all 
the Catacombs ; and with the exceptions just alluded to, in 
some of its areas, the oldest in point of date. 

Much of this great cemetery dates from the time of men 
who knew the Apostles Peter and Paul. 

Its grandeur. It was the burying-place of certain Christian 
members of the imperial house of Vespasian, Titus, and 
Domitian in the days of their power, and it tells us with no 
uncertain voice that in the ranks of the Christian congregation 
of Rome in the very first days were members drawn from 
the highest ranks of the proudest aristocracy of the world, 
and who did not shrink from sharing the same seats in the 
Christian prayer homes with the slave and the little trader. 

Writing of the DomitiDa Cemetery in 1903, Marucchi does 
not hesitate to style it perhaps the most important of all 
the Catacombs ; but, " alas ! " he goes on to say, " it has been 
terribly ravaged by comparatively modern explorers." These 
destructive explorations have sadly affected the importance 
which the Catacomb and its several divisions, or areas, would 
have possessed as a great monument of very early Christian 
history, had these recent excavations been carried out with 
due care and reverence. 

Roughly, the Cemetery of Domitilla is composed of three 
distinct divisions or areas. The first, the work of the first 
and second centuries. In this area there are several famous 
historical centres, e.g. the tombs of the two saints Nereus 
and Achilles, and of the once famous S. Petronilla, and the 
well-known entrance or vestibule which opens on the Via 
Ardeatina, and the Chapel or Chamber of Ampliatus. The 
second area is the work of the third century, and the third 
dates from the last years of the third and the first quarter 
of the fourth. These areas have been connected with corridors 

f -- 


of different periods in the second, third, and fourth centuries ; 
the whole network is of very great extent. 

At the end of the sixth century, in the Pontificate of 
Siricius, great damage was occasioned to much of the earlier 
part of the cemetery by the construction of the Basilica of 
S. Petronilla, a building which also bears the names of Nereus 
and Achilles. 

The fame of these early martyrs and the number of pil 
grims to their shrines in the closing years of the fourth century, 
induced Pope Siricius regardless of the mischief which such 
a work would occasion to the many unknown graves of an 
early period to build a somewhat large church or basilica 
over the tombs of SS. Nereus and Achilles and S. Petronilla. 
The position of the tombs of these two saints has been ascer 
tained ; the grave of Petronilla has also been localized with 
fair certainty. The high altar of the fourth-century basilica 
was placed over the graves of the two martyrs ; the remains 
of Petronilla lay in a chamber behind the apse of the basilica ; 
without, of course, maintaining the accuracy of the details 
of the sixth-century martyrology of Nereus and Achilles, 
the discoveries in the Cemetery of Domitilla have established 
the fact of the existence of these two traditional saints and 
martyrs. Scholars recognize now that much of the sixth- 
century martyrology was founded upon dependable tradition. 

The much disputed tradition of Petronilla, the wanderings 
of her body, and the question whether or not she was the 
daughter of S. Peter, is discussed in Appendix I., p. 277, where 
the story of her tomb is told at some length. 

The crypt of Ampliatus another of the historic centres 
of this great catacomb, is situated in the middle of the area 
or district originally occupied by the tornbs of the Christian 
members of the Imperial Flavian House. The decorations 
of the sepulchral chambers here and the style of inscriptions 
belong to the first century and first half of the second. 

In one of the carefully decorated crypts of the Flavian 
family is an arched tomb with the word " Ampliatus " graven 
on marble in characters which belong to a very early period. 
De Rossi, after examining the question at some length, con 
cludes that this grave can be with very high probability 


considered to be the sleeping-place of the remains of the 
Ampliatus loved of S. Paul (Rom. xvi. 8). The name is 
clearly that of a slave or freedman ; subsequently the name 
(Ampliatus) became the recognized surname of the various 
members of the family and their descendants. It seems 
strange on first thoughts that one of servile rank should 
occupy a tomb of considerable importance in the very heart 
of a Christian cemetery belonging to so great a House. This 
is no doubt explained by the fact that this Ampliatus occupied 
some very distinguished position in the early Christian com 
munity at Rome. De Rossi concludes from this, that Ampli 
atus was most probably the friend of S. Paul ; this would 
account for the estimation in which this person of servile 
origin was held by the noblest of the Roman Christian Houses. 


On the Via Appia " the Queen of Ways " as it was termed 
there are four groups of cemeteries in close proximity. Two 
of these groups, probably three, are linked together by cor 

The " Via Appia " led from the ancient Porta Capena 
through Albano, Aricia, etc., on to Capua, and later it was 
continued to Brindisi. Three of the four groups of cemeteries 
or catacombs coming from Rome are on the right of the way : 
the cemetery of S. Callistus, of S. Sebastian (" ad Catacombas"), 
of S. Soteris ; and on the left that of Prsetextatus. 

We have alluded above to the ancient Pilgrim Itineraries 
as giving a sure index to De Rossi in his investigation and 
exploration work. As an example we append a short extract 
from the older of the two Pilgrim Guides known as the Salz 
burg Itinerary, which dates from about the year of grace 
625 : " You come by the Appian Way to S. Sebastian 
Martyr, whose body lies deep down ; there too are the sepul 
chres of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in which they rested 
for 40 years. . . . North on the same Appian Way you come 
to the Martyrs Tiburtius, Valerianus, and Maximus. When 
there you pass into a large crypt and you find S. Urban, 


Martyr and Confessor ; in another spot Felicissimus and 
Agapitus, Martyrs ; in a third place, Cyrinus Martyr ; in a 
fourth, Januarius Martyr. On the same way you find S. 
Cecilia and a countless multitude of martyrs ( ibi innumera- 
bilis multitude Martyrum ), Sixtus Pope and Martyr, Dionysius 
Pope and Martyr, Julianus Pope and Martyr, Flavianus 
Pope and Martyr. There are 80 martyrs resting there. 
Zephyrinus Pope and Martyr rests above Eusebius ; and Cor 
nelius Pope and Martyr rests in a crypt a little further off ; 
and then you come to the holy Virgin and Martyr Soteris." 

Comparing the various Pilgrim Guides together, De Rossi 
found that, with very minor differences in the details, they 
agreed wonderfully ; and in the main, although composed 
a thousand to thirteen hundred years ago, he was able with 
their help to identify the principal shrines visited by the 
pilgrim crowds of the sixth and two following centuries. 

(i) The Cemetery of S. Sebastian (" ad Catacombas ") is situ 
ated on the Via Appia, right-hand side ; about one and a half 
miles from the Porta S. Sebastiana (the ancient Porta Appia). 
The principal " memory " belonging to this catacomb is the 
Platonia chamber so called from its having been lined with 
marble in which for a brief season were deposited the bodies 
of the two Apostles SS. Peter and Paul. The fact of this 
chamber having been the temporary home of the sacred 
bodies is undisputed ; the exact date of their having been 
placed there, and the length of the period during which they 
were left in the Platonia chamber in question, have been the 
subject of much controversy. The period of forty years 
mentioned in the above quoted Pilgrim Itinerary is now 
reduced by the most dependable of modern scholars to two 
years, and the date of the placing of the bodies in this spot 
is now generally assumed to have been A.D. 258, in the days 
of the short but bitter persecution of Valerian, when the 
tombs on the Vatican Hill and on the Via Ostiensis were not 
considered safe from outrage. When the active persecu 
tion ceased, the remains of the two apostles were restored 
to their original resting-places ; the spot, however, where 
the sacred bodies had rested for a brief season assumed in 
the eyes of the faithful a singular sanctity, and very many 


desired to be laid in the immediate neighbourhood of the 
hallowed place. This was no doubt the original reason for 
the formation of the Cemetery " ad Catacombas/ the name 
of the little district in which the temporary tomb of the two 
apostles was situated. 

The catacomb in question was eventually named after 
Sebastian, a brave confessor in the persecution of Diocletian, 
circa A.D. 289-303. This Sebastian was tribune in the 
first cohort and commanded a company of the Praetorians, 
which was stationed on guard on the Palatine. He died for 
his faith under circumstances of a peculiar dramatic in 
terest, being pierced with arrows and cruelly scourged. His 
body, so runs the probably true story, was taken out of the 
common sewer, into which it was ignominiously thrown, by 
a Christian matron named Lucina, who reverently interred 
it in the Cemetery " ad Catacombas " in the neighbourhood 
of the sacred Platonia chamber. 

The remains of S. Sebastian were removed in the seven 
teenth century by Cardinal Borghesi from the crypt in which 
they were originally deposited and re interred in the modern 
chapel which was erected over the ancient sanctuary. During 
the Middle Ages, when owing to the raids of the barbarians 
and consequent translation of the more celebrated martyrs 
to churches within the city, the eventful story of the cata 
combs was forgotten, this cemetery, owing to its connection 
\vith the two great apostles, was ever a hallowed sanctuary, 
and was visited by an unbroken stream of pilgrim visitors, and 
after the rediscovery of the City of the Dead in the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, gave the name of its now famous 
district " ad Catacombas " to the various subterranean 
cemeteries which from time to time since then have been 

The corridors with their graves in this famous cemetery 
have not yet been fully excavated. 

The Cemetery of 5. Callistus. The great group of cata 
combs generally known under the title " S. Callistus " is 
situated on the right of the Via Appia, about a quarter of a 
mile nearer Rome than the Cemetery of S. Sebastian ("ad 
Catacombas ") just described ; the usual entrance being about 

^ o 


one and a quarter miles from the Porta S. Sebastiana (Porta 

It is composed of several groups of cemeteries of different 
periods from the first century to the fourth. These groups 
are so united by corridors that they may be considered as one 
vast catacomb. The Cemetery of Callistus in part dates 
from the first century, but it only obtained the designation of 
" Callistus " in the last years of the second or in the first years 
of the third century, when Callistus the deacon was appointed 
by Zephyrinus the Bishop of Rome as superintendent of The 
Cemetery. Subsequently Callistus succeeded Zephyrinus as 
bishop, and greatly enlarged the original area, one chambei 
of which he set apart as the official burying-place of the 
bishops or popes of Rome. Before the time of Callistus 
the official burying-place of the bishops was the cemetery 
on the Vatican Hill, immediately contiguous to the 
sepulchre of S. Peter. At the end of the second century 
the limited space on the Vatican Hill was completely oc 
cupied hence the necessity for arranging a new papal crypt. 

The oldest portion of the " Callistus " group is the so- 
called Crypt of Lucina (first and second century). It was 
evidently in the first instance excavated in the property of 
the noble family of the Caecilii, and was used as the burying- 
place of Christian members of that great House. De Rossi 
believes that the " Lucina " in whose land the crypt was 
originally arranged was no other than the well-known Pomponia 
Graecina, wife of Plautius, the famous general in the days of 
Nero, whose conversion to Christianity about the year of 
grace 58 is alluded to in scarcely veiled language by Tacitus. 
If this be the case, the name " Lucina " was assumed by the 
great lady in question, and by which she was generally known 
in Christian circles. The assuming of such an " agnomen " 
was not uncommon among Roman ladies. The original area of 
the Cemetery of Lucina was greatly enlarged in the days of the 
Emperor Marcus and in the last years of the second century. 
The chapel of the popes, above alluded to, and other important 
funereal chambers, are included in this enlarged area. 

It was in the course of the third century, no doubt 
after the construction of the new crypt or chapel of the 


popes 1 by Callistus, and of course in part owing to the 
presence of this great historical centre, that the cemetery 
assumed its grandiose proportions. 

The Cemetery of S. Soteris, a vast catacomb, com 
municates with the older portion of the Callistus crypt and 
corridors. Much is as yet unexplored here. S. Soteris 
virgin and martyr who has given her name to this great 
cemetery, was buried " in Cemeterio suo," A.D. 304. 
She suffered when the persecution of Diocletian was raging. 

What we have termed the group, included generally under 
the term of the Callistus Catacomb, is the largest and most exten 
sive of the catacombs which lie on the great roads which run 
through the suburbs and immediate neighbourhood of Rome. 

The discovery of this important area of the ancient 
Christian City of the Dead was made in the year 1849, when 
De Rossi found in an old vineyard bordering on the Via Appia 
a fragment of an inscription bearing the letters " NELIUS 
Martyr." The Itineraries had recorded that Cornelius, Bishop 
of Rome and Martyr, had been buried in the " Callistus " 
Cemetery. In the course of subsequent searches the other 
portion of the broken tablet was found, which completed the 
inscription " Cornelius Martyr." The vineyard was purchased 
by Pope Pius ix, and very soon the searchers came upon the 
ruined chapel of the popes and the crypt of S. Cecilia. 

The position of the historic Callistus Catacomb was thus 
established beyond doubt, and for some fifty years, portions 
of the great cemetery have been slowly excavated by De 
Rossi and his companions ; the results have been of the highest 
importance, and have contributed in no little degree to our 
knowledge of early Christianity its faith its hopes its 

The Cemetery of Pratextatus is on the left hand of the 
Via Appia, almost parallel with the usual entrance to the vast 
network of the Catacomb of Callistus. It is, comparatively 
speaking, a cemetery of small dimensions, but of great anti 
quity. It must have been arranged quite early in the second 

1 The story of the tomb of S. Cecilia and her crypt is told in detail in 
the section immediately succeeding this general sketch of the catacombs, 
pp. 289-97. 


century ; not improbably portions of this cemetery date from 
the first century. Some of the decorations of the historic 
crypt are elaborate and striking, and evidently belong to 
the best period of classical art. As yet it has only 
partially been explored. It runs under private property, and 
the owner apparently is unwilling to allow a detailed examina 
tion : this is disappointing, as owing to its great antiquity and 
possessing some historic crypts, once the resting-places of famous 
heroes in the early Christian combat, probably discoveries of 
high interest would result from a prolonged and careful search. 

As early as A.D. 1857 De Rossi discovered in this ceme 
tery of Praetextatus some crypts highly decorated, evidently 
the resting-places of certain famous martyrs referred to in 
the Pilgrim Itineraries as sleeping in this catacomb. 

There are many indications that we meet with here which 
tell us that this is a very ancient cemetery. Speaking of this 
catacomb of Praetextatus, the pilgrim itineraries mention 
particularly three of those small Basilicas in the immediate 
vicinity, which frequently in the fourth or fifth centuries were 
built directly over the crypt or crypts which contained the 
remains of well-known martyrs and confessors ; this was for 
the convenience of pilgrims who came after from distant 
countries to pray at the shrines : the ruins of two of these 
Basilicas, apparently dedicated to SS. Valerian, Tiburtius, 
Maximus, and Zeno, have been discovered here. Of these 
confessors, Valerian and Tiburtius were respectively the 
husband and brother-in-law of S. Cecilia. Zeno l was also a 
martyr. Maximus was the Roman officer who had charge 
of the execution of Valerian and Tiburtius, and who, seeing 
their constancy under torture, became a Christian, and was 
in consequence put to death. 

Other historic crypts have been ascertained to have existed 
in this little catacomb namely, those of SS. Felicissimus, 
Agapetus, and Quirinus, with his daughter Balbina of whom 
Felicissimus and Agapitus were deacons in attendance upon 
Pope Sixtus. They suffered martyrdom under Valerian, A.D. 
258. Quirinus was a tribune who was put to death at an 
earlier period under the Emperor Hadrian. 

1 Further details respecting S. Zeno will be found below, p. 276. 


A yet more famous confessor than any of these, S. Januarius, 
the eldest of the seven martyr sons of S. Felicitas, was buried 
in this sacred second-century catacomb of Praetextatus. The 
number of graffiti, the work of pilgrim visitors in the neigh 
bourhood of the tomb of this Januarius, bears witness to the 
great veneration in which this martyr was held. 

The ceiling of the tomb, which has been identified as that 
of S. Januarius, is beautifully decorated with paintings of the 
second century representing the four seasons : the spring by 
flowers, the summer by ears of corn, the autumn by a vine, 
the winter by laurels ; birds and little winged figures are 
artistically mingled in this very early decorative work. On the 
wall below a painting, representing the Good Shepherd with 
a sheep on His shoulder, has been almost destroyed by a 
grave excavated in the fourth century. The grave held the 
body of some devout Christian whose friends were anxious to 
lay their loved dead as near as possible to the sacred remains 
of the famous martyr S. Januarius. Not a few of the more 
striking of the catacomb paintings are thus unhappily dis 
figured by the mistaken piety of subsequent generations. 1 

The personality of Praetextatus, after whom this cemetery 
is named, is unknown. 


The ancient Via Latina branches off from the Via Appia 
near the Baths of Caracalla. It is soon, however, lost among 
the vineyards, but reappears and leads eventually to the 
Alban Hills. 

The Pilgrim Itineraries mention three cemeteries here. 
They give a certain number of names of martyrs buried 
in these catacombs none, however, apparently well known. 
They also allude to " many martyrs " interred in these 

The names of the three catacombs in question are (i) 
Apronienus perhaps the name of the original donor ; 

1 Further details respecting the identification of this once famous shrine 
will be found below on pp. 301-2. 


(2) SS. Gordianus and Epimachus ; and (3) S. Tertullinus. 
These cemeteries have never been carefully examined, and 
even the site of the third has not vet been identified. 


Leads from the Porta Maggiore, the ancient Porta Prsenes- 
tina, to Palestrina. The Itineraries tell us of two cemeteries 
on this road, that of S. Castulus and that of SS. Peter and 
Marcellinus. The Catacomb of S. Castulus has only been 
very partially examined. It is in a ruinous condition, and is 
not at present accessible. S. Castulus suffered martyrdom 
in the persecution of Diocletian. 

The Catacomb of SS. Peter and Marcellinus, sometimes 
called " ad duas lauros," from the original name of the district, 
is in the immediate neighbourhood of the famous Torre 
Pignatara, the tomb of S. Helena, this appellation being 
derived from the pignatte or earthen pots used in the building. 
The magnificent porphyry sarcophagus now in the Vatican 
was removed from this tomb. SS. Peter and Marcellinus, 
from whom this once celebrated catacomb is named, suffered 
in the persecution of Diocletian. S. Peter was in orders 
as an exorcist. S. Marcellinus was a priest. Pope Damasus, 
in his inscription originally placed on their crypt, tells us 
he learned the particulars of their martyrdom from the 
executioner employed by the State. This cemetery has 
lately been partially explored. The bodies of the two saints 
who gave their names to the catacomb were carried away, 
and are now in Seligenstadt, near Mayence. The saints 
termed " the Ouatuor Coronati " were in the first instance 
buried here, but their remains were subsequently translated 
by Pope Leo iv to the church on the Ccelian. This cemetery 
is of considerable extent. 

The Itineraries enumerate the names of several martyrs 
once evidently well known. They also speak of many other 
martyrs buried here, using such expressions as " innumerabilis 
martyrum multitudo sepulta jacent " " alii (Martyres) innu- 
merabiles," etc. 



The Via Tiburtina leads to Tivoli. It quits Rome by the 
Porta S. Lorenzo, which stands on the site of the ancient 
Porta Tiburtina. On this road are two large cemeteries, 
that of S. Cyriaca and that of S. Hippolytus. S. Cyriaca 
was a Christian widow. The importance, however, of this 
catacomb is mainly derived from its possessing the tomb of 
S. Laurence. S. Laurence suffered martyrdom A.D. 258, 
three days after the death of Pope Sixtus n, to whom he was 
attached as deacon. A very general tradition relates that 
Laurence suffered on a gridiron. An extraordinary popu 
larity is attached to his memory. Marucchi, one of the latest 
scholars who has written on the catacombs, does not hesitate 
to say that the veneration paid to him was almost equal 
that accorded to the apostles. There is scarcely a city 
in Western Christendom which does not possess a church 
bearing his honoured name. In Rome itself there are six 
of these. 

Over the crypt containing the tomb of S. Laurence, 
Constantine the Great built a little oratory or memoria, which 
soon became too small for the crowds of pilgrims. A second 
church was erected by Pope Sixtus in, A.D. 432, by the side 
of Constantine s Memoria which was ever known as " Basilica 
ad Corpus." The second church was termed the " Basilica 
Major." Three of the fifth century Popes of Rome were 
buried in the " Basilica ad Corpus." In the thirteenth 
century the two churches were made into one by Honorius 

III, A.D. I2l8. 

The Itineraries mention several well-known martyrs buried 
in the cemetery which was excavated round the martyr s 
sacred tomb, notably SS. Justus, Cyriaca, Simferosa, etc., 
" cum multis martyribus." The catacomb in comparatively 
modern times has been ruthlessly damaged by the works 
in connection with a very large modern cemetery. Only 
since A.D. 1894 has more care been taken in the preser 
vation of the precious remains of this once important 

Cemetery of S. Hippolytus. On the same great road, 


the Via Tiburtina which stretches across the now desolate 
Campagna to Tivoli, on the northern side of the road almost 
opposite the Cemetery of S. Cyriaca on which stands the 
Basilica of S. Laurentius just described, is the Catacomb 
of S. Hippolytus. It is only comparatively recently that 
this cemetery has been really explored, and much still 
remains to be excavated here. A small basilica under 
ground was discovered, with the historic crypt in which 
the once famous martyr was buried. The corridors around 
have been sadly ravaged again and again by barbarian 
invaders in the fifth and following centuries, and the whole 
catacomb is in ruin, and has been only in part investigated. 
It is evidently of considerable extent. Proximity to the 
tomb of the great scholar martyr was evidently a privilege 
eagerly sought by many from the middle years of the third 
century onward. The numbers of Pilgrim "Graffiti" or 
inscriptions more or less roughly carved and painted in the 
neighbourhood of the sanctuary, tell us that the spot where 
the remains of Hippolytus lay, was long the object of reverent 
pilgrimage after the Peace of the Church all through the 
fourth and following centuries. The Itineraries mention 
many martyrs buried here, among whom S. Genesius is per 
haps the best known ; he was a celebrated actor ; once a 
mocker at the religion of which eventually he became the 
brave confessor ; he died for his faith. 

But the glory of this now ruined cemetery was the tomb 
of S. Hippolytus. He has been well described by Bishop 
Light foot in his long and exhaustive Memoir (Apostolic 
Fathers, Part i. vol. ii.). 

The position and influence of Hippolytus were unique 
among the Roman Christians of his age. He linked together 
the learning and the traditions of the East, the original home 
of Christianity, with the practical energy of the West, the 
scene of his own life labours. He was by far the most learned 
man in the Western Church. . . . Though he lived till within 
a few years of the middle of the third century, he could trace 
his pedigree back by only three steps, literary as well as minis 
terial, to the life and teaching of the Saviour Himself, Irenaeus, 
of whom he was the pupil, Poly carp, and S. John. This 


was his direct ancestry. No wonder if these facts secured 
to him exceptional honour in his own generation." 

The position he occupied in the Christian world has been 
much disputed. He is usually described as Bishop of Portus, 
the harbour of Rome, and modern scholarship has come to 
the conclusion that he exercised a general superintendence 
with the rank of a bishop over the various congregations of 
foreigners, traders and others, on the Italian sea-board, with 
Portus as his headquarters. 

A very dignified and striking statue, alas much mutilated, 
has been found amid the ruins over the Cemetery of Hippolytus. 
On the back and sides of the chair on which the figure of 
the scholar bishop is sitting, is engraved a generally received 
list of his works. There is no doubt as to the genuineness 
of the statue in question, which dates from about the year 
222. It ranks as the oldest Christian statue which has come 
to light ; indeed, it stands alone as an example of very 
early Christian sculpture, and was probably erected in an 
interval of the Church s peace in the reign of the Emperor 
Alexander Severus, and is a striking proof of the unique 
position which the writer and scholar held in the Christian 

There is no doubt he was done to death what, however, 
was the peculiar form of his martyrdom is uncertain. We 
know he was exiled to Sardinia, where he suffered, and his 
remains were brought back to Rome with the remains of 
Pontianus, somewhile Bishop of Rome, who also suffered 
martyrdom at the same time in Sardinia ; Pontianus being 
laid in the papal crypt in the Cemetery of Callistus, and 
Hippolytus in the catacomb which bears his name on the 
Via Tiburtina, about the year 237. 

Pope Damasus, the great restorer of the sanctuaries of 
Rome, enlarged and beautified the crypt where the honoured 
remains were deposited, in the latter years of the fourth century, 
and a few years later Prudentius the Christian poet in his 
collection of hymns entitled Peristephanon the Crowns of 
the Martyrs devotes a long poem to the shrine and memory 
of Hippolytus. 

In the opening years of the fourth century, when Honorius, 


Theodosius son, was reigning over the Western Empire, 
it is evident that the fame and reputation of Hippolytus, 
scholar and martyr, were among the popular histories of 
Christendom, and his tomb one of the chief objects of 

The lines of Prudentius, written in the closing years of 
the fourth century, are quoted as giving a picture of a famous 
catacomb as it appeared to a scholar and poet in the days of 
Theodosius and Honorius. They also give some idea of the 
estimation and reverential regard with which the martyrs 
and confessors of the first age of Christianity were held in 
the century which immediately followed the Peace of the 
Church : 

" Hard by the City walls amid the orchards there is 
a Crypt. . . . Into its secret cells there is a steep path with 
winding stairs. ... As you advance, the darkness as of night 
grows more dense. ... At intervals, however, there are con 
trived openings cut in the roof above, which bring the bright 
rays of the sun into the crypt. Although the recesses twist 
ing this way and that form narrow chambers, with galleries 
in deep gloom, yet some light finds its way through the pierced 
vaulting down into the hollow recesses. . . . And thus through 
out the subterranean crypt it is possible still to revel in the 
brightness of the absent sun. 

" To such secret recesses was the body of Hippolytus borne, 
quite near to the spot where now stands the altar dedicated 
to God. 

That same altar-slab provides the sacrament, and is the 
trusty guardian of its martyr s bones, which it guards there 
in the waiting for the Eternal Life, while it feeds the dwellers 
by the River Tiber with holy food. 

" Marvellous is the sanctity of the place. The altar is 
close by for those who pray, and it assists the hopes of such 
by mercifully giving what they require. Here, too, have I 
when sick with ills of soul and body, often knelt in prayer 
and found help. . . . Early in the morning men come to 
salute (Hippolytus) ; all the youth of the place worship here ; 
they come they go until the setting of the sun. Love 


of religion gathers into one vast crowd both Latins and 
strangers." Translated from Prudentius, " Peri step hanon," 
Passion of S. Hippolytus. 

The close proximity of the Cemetery and Basilica of S. 
Laurence (above described) as years passed on was fatal to 
the memory of S. Hippolytus. From very early times S. 
Laurence, the deacon of Sixtus n, received extraordinary 
honour. He suffered, as we have stated, in the persecution 
of Decius, circa A.D. 258, and occupies the place of S. Stephen 
in the Church of the West. It was of this famous and popular 
saint that Augustine wrote : " Quam non potest abscondi 
Roma, tarn non potest abscondi Laurentii corona." In the 
prayer of the oldest Roman sacramentary we read, " De beati 
solemnitate Laurentii, peculiaris prae ceteris Roma laetatur." 
" No marvel," writes Bishop Light foot, " that the aureole 
which encircled the heads of other neighbouring saints and 
martyrs, even of the famous Hippolytus himself, should have 
faded in the light of his unique splendour." 

As years rolled on, the neighbouring Basilica of S. Laur 
ence grew larger and grander. The Basilica of S. Hippolytus 
built over his cemetery faded away, comparatively uncared 
for ; the great scholar was forgotten in the fame which gathered 
round the neighbouring popular saint. Paul I, A.D. 756-67, 
removed the sacred relique of the saint scholar to the well- 
known City Church of S. Silvester in Capite. 

The Cemetery and Basilica of Hippolytus after the remains 
of the saint had been translated were quickly forgotten, and 
the very site was in time confused with that of the Cemetery 
and stately Church of S. Laurence on the other side of the 
Via Tiburtina. It was only in 1881 that De Rossi discovered 
the ancient cemetery and the ruined subterranean basilica 
above briefly described, the basilica and catacomb visited 
by Prudentius in the last years of the fourth century, and so 
vividly painted by him in his hymn in the Peristephanon. 

Outside Rome there are traces of the fame of the great 
scholar, but not many. There is a ruined church in Portus 
bearing his name ; its tower, still noticeable, is a conspicuous 
landmark in the desolate Campagna. Aries possesses a 


church dedicated to Hippolytus. A strange story connects 
his remains with the once famous royal Abbey of S. Denis 
close to Paris. His body, or at least portions of his body, 
are also traditionally enshrined in churches at Brescia and 
Cologne. The Roman Churches of S. Laurence and the 
" Quatuor Coronati " also claim to possess reliques of S. 

But these few scattered and doubtful reliques are well- 
nigh all that remains of Hippolytus, and while many of his 
writings are still with us, bearing witness to his industry and 
scholarship, his name and life-work are virtually forgotten 
by men ; and in ecclesiastical annals only a dim, blurred 
memory of the career of one of the greatest scholars and 
writers of the first two Christian centuries lives in the pages 
of that eventful story. 

Of the two saints whose basilicas and cemeteries were 
so close together on that Campagna Road just outside Rome, 
the one, S. Laurence, men have crowned with an aureole 
of surpassing glory ; the other, S. Hippolytus, whose title 
to honour was really far superior to that of his companion 
in the tombs of the Via Tiburtina, men have chosen to 


The Via Nomentana leaves Rome on the north through 
the modern Porta Pia ; in ancient times the Porta Nomentana, 
and in the Middle Ages the Porta S. Agnesi. On this road 
the Itineraries tell us of three cemeteries : that of S. 
Nicomedes, of S. Agnes, and the cemetery generally termed 
" Coemeterium majus. De Rossi calls this last the Ostrian 
Cemetery ; some call it after the famous martyred foster- 
sister of Agnes, S. Emerentiana, who was buried there. 

(i) Cemetery of S. Nicomedes. This is only a small cata 
comb, but it possesses a high interest on account of its age. It 
dates evidently from the first century. Tradition tells us that 
Nicomedes was a presbyter who lived in the days of Domitian. 
He suffered martyrdom for his faith s sake, and his body was 
thrown into the Tiber. A disciple of his, one Justus, recovered 


his master s body and buried it " in horto juxta muros." The 
garden in question, hard by the city walls, was the site of the 
present little catacomb. 

The masonry work here is of a very early date, and the 
various Greek inscriptions on the loculi also bear witness 
to its great antiquity ; Marucchi alludes to a reservoir 
of water in the principal gallery, and believes that the 
presence of water prevented the cemetery from being further 

(2) The Cemetery of S. Agnes is on the Via Nomentana, 
about a mile from the Porta Pia. S. Agnes has been from 
very early times a singularly loved figure among the 
heroines of the days of persecution. Jerome well voices this 
popular estimate " omnium gentium litteris atque linguis 
.... vita laudata est." Her story is well known ; how she 
refused to become the bride of the Proconsul s son, alleging 
that she was already the bride of Christ. After some 
terrible experiences she was condemned to be burned as a 
Christian, but the fire was too tardy or insufficient, so the 
executioner stabbed her in the throat. The name " Agnes " is 
simply a Christian appellation which she assumed signifying 
her purity and chastity. The name of her family is unknown ; 
it is, however, certain that she belonged to a wealthy, probably 
to a noble House. She was interred in a cemetery, the 
property of her parents " in praediolo suo." 

Her martyrdom took place in the course of the persecution 
of the Emperor Valerian, circa A.D. 253-7. Portions of the 
catacomb which bears her name are of a yet older date than 
S. Agnes. Among other signs of great antiquity are the Greek 
inscriptions on various loculi. The cemetery, which has been 
explored with some care, consists of three stories, of different 
dates. It was, however, after the burying of the young martyr 
that the catacomb was developed and assumed considerable 
proportions, as many of the Christian congregation of Rome 
were desirous of depositing their loved dead in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the tomb of Agnes. The Emperor Cons tan- 
tine in the fourth century built the basilica known as S. Agnes 
over the tomb. There is an inscription on a small marble 
tablet at Naples, originally brought from Rome, which Armellini 


considers was originally on the loculus containing the body of 
the saint. The inscription is as follows : 


The basilica has been several times restored, but preserves 
with fair accuracy the original disposition of the Church of 

When it was first built in the fourth century, as we find in 
other similar instances, considerable destruction and havoc 
were wrought in the galleries of the catacomb. The fourth- 
century builders often mercilessly cut away and destroyed 
galleries, cubicula, loculi, when they arranged for the founda 
tions and lower stories of the church large or small which arose 
over the tomb of the special saint and martyr. We would 
instance as conspicuous examples of this strange disregard of 
the older bury ing-places, the Basilicas of S. Domitilla, of S. 
Laurence, of S. Sylvester ; the last named is built over the 
Cemetery of S. Priscilla. 

The body of S. Agnes was never translated from its original 
home. In the year 1605, in the pontificate of Paul v, her 
remains, together with those of her foster-sister the martyr S, 
Emerentiana, were placed in a silver sarcophagus or urn. This 
was seen in the year 1901-2, when some work beneath the 
altar was being carried out. 

(3) The Ccemeterium majm in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the Catacomb of S. Agnes. De Rossi names it the " Ostrian " 
Cemetery, and connects it with the memories of S. Peter, as 
being the place where the apostle used to baptize. Marucchi, 
however, in the light of recent discoveries in the Catacomb of 
Priscilla on the adjacent Via Salaria, unhesitatingly believes 
that the site of S. Peter s \vork and preaching must be sought 
for in the last-named cemetery. A brief resume of Marucchi s 
arguments, which are most weighty, will be given when the 
Cemetery of Priscilla is described. 

The glory of this cemetery (Coemeterium ma jus), as the 
memory of S. Peter seems really to belong to the Catacomb of 
S. Priscilla, is that here was the original tomb of S. Emeren 
tiana, who for her devotion to her foster-sister Agnes suffered 


martyrdom very shortly after the death of Agnes. The site of 
the tomb has been ascertained, but the remains of Emerentiana 
now rest in the silver urn which contains the body of S. Agnes 
in her basilica beneath the altar. 

The appellation " Ccemeterium majus " dates certainly 
from the fifth century. One of the more striking features of 
this catacomb is a little basilica not of later construction but 
belonging to the original work. It is simply excavated in the 
tufa stone, and is divided into two parts by the passage running 
through the cemetery. It is a perfect subterranean church, 
containing separate divisions for men and women. The 
presbytery and the position of the altar are clearly defined ; 
the very chair for the bishop or presiding presbyter is in its 
place, as is the pillar on which the sacred oil burned in front 
of some hallowed sanctuary. We wonder what was the 
special purpose for which this little church, in the middle of the 
cemetery, was designed ? 

The Itineraries mention that various martyrs, whose 
life-stories are generally unknown to us, were buried here. 



The Via Salaria Nova, like the Via Nomentana, from which 
it is but a little distant, lies on the north side of the city. 
Abutting on the road are four cemeteries : S. Felicitas, 
Thrason and Saturninus, Jordani, and the very important 
and most ancient Catacomb of S. Priscilla. 

The story of S. Felicitas, who with her seven sons was 
put to death for her religion in the reign of and by the direct 
commandment of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, circa A.D. 
162, is fairly well known. The " Acts " of the martyrdom 
by many scholars are not reckoned authentic, although the 
document in question is allowed to be of very high antiquity. 

The story is generally very sharply criticized, as a repro 
duction of a story from the Fourth Book of Maccabees. The 
high estimation in which the Emperor Marcus universally 
now is held, no doubt contributes to the severe criticism 


with which the story of Felicitas and her seven sons is received. 
Naturally there is considerable reluctance in acknowledging 
in any way the truth of a story in which the favourite hero 
of historians and philosophers, the noble Emperor Marcus, 
plays so sorry a part, and in which the brave constancy and 
noble endurance of a group of those Christians he so much 
disliked and tried to despise, is so conspicuously displayed. 

But this is one of the many instances, a witness no one 
can gainsay, of the catacombs to the main truth of a story 
hitherto largely discredited. The tombs of the heroic mother 
and her brave sons have been identified. We recapitulate. 

In the Catacomb of S. Felicitas the body of the mother 
was interred and subsequently removed to the basilica built 
over the cemetery in question. In the ancient Catacomb 
of Praetextatus, Januarius (the eldest of Felicitas sons) tomb 
has been found ; nay more from the numerous prayers and 
allusions in the graffiti around it, it is evident that the tomb 
in question was deeply reverenced by generations of pilgrim 
visitors. In the famous Priscilla Catacomb two out of the seven 
have been found Felix and Philip. We know, too, that in the 
Jordani Cemetery, Martialis, Vitalis, and Alexander lie buried. 
In the Catacomb of Maximus, a cemetery on the Via Salaria 
which has not been identified, Silanus, the seventh of the faithful 
band, was laid. The body of Silanus, the youngest, apparently 
was carried away, but subsequently restored, and laid in the 
same catacomb with his mother. 

After the Peace of the Church a little basilica was erected 
over the Cemetery of S. Felicitas, and Pope Damasus wrote 
in her honour one of his Epistles. At the end of the eighth 
century Pope Leo in translated the remains of the mother 
and her son Silanus to the Church of S. Suzanna. 1 There 
they are still resting. 

After the translation of its precious relics, the cemetery 

1 The Church of S. Suzanna has a striking history. It was rebuilt by 
Maderno for Sixtus v, on the site of an ancient church or oratory erected by 
Pope Caius, A.D. 283, in the house of his brother, who suffered martyrdom 
with his daughter, Suzanna, because she refused to break her vow of perpetual 
virginity by a marriage with the adopted son of the Emperor Diocletian. 
The bodies of these two martyrs still rest beneath the high altar. 


of which we are speaking, in common with so many of the 
catacombs; was deserted by the pilgrim visitors, and its very 
site was quickly forgotten. De Rossi, in 1858, was enabled 
to point out its situation, but it was not examined until the 
year 1884, when some workmen digging the foundations of 
a house came upon some ancient loculi, with inscriptions, 
and a number of dim faint pictures. The little basilica of 
the sixth century thus came to light, and the ruins of what 
had once been the tomb and shrine of S. Felicitas in the cata 
comb which bears her name. 

On the Via Salaria Nova, between the Cemetery of S. 
Felicitas and the very important Cemetery of S. Priscilla, 
there exists what may be termed a network of catacombs 
only very partially explored. The first is called after Thrason, 
a wealthy Roman citizen who gave the hospitality of the tomb 
in a catacomb beneath his gardens to several martyrs to the 
Diocletian persecution notably to Saturninus. This portion 
of the catacombs has as yet been only very little explored ; 
the corridors, etc., are still earthed up. 

A little farther on the same road is another cemetery, 
generally known too under the same name " Thrason." 
Marucchi, however, calls it " Ccemeterium Jordanorum." It 
is probable that it was joined originally to that of Thrason. 
The meaning of the term " Jordani " used in the old Pilgrim 
Itineraries is uncertain. This is one of the deepest excavated 
cemeteries. As many as four stories of galleries, one beneath 
the other, have been found here. Several "Arenaria" or sand 
pits intervene between the groups of galleries of this catacomb. 
All this extensive network of catacombs and arenaria has 
only been partially excavated as yet. The work is naturally 
costly to execute, and is accompanied with some danger. 

De Rossi places in one of these " Arenaria " or sand-pits in 
the midst of this group of Catacombs of Thrason and the 
Jordani on the Via Salaria, the scene of the martyrdom of the 
well-known SS. Chrysanthus and his wife Daria, who bore their 
witness unto death in the persecution of the Emperor Numerian, 
circa A.D. 284. Daria had once been a Vestal Virgin; she became 
a Christian, and was the especial object of hatred by the 
fading pagan party. 


S. Gregory of Tours, in his De Gloria Martyrum relates 
how after the Peace of the Church, when the tombs of these 
two famous martyrs were searched for and discovered, in 
the historic crypt of their tomb were found the sad remains 
of a large group of Christians men, women, and even children. 
Some time after the martyrdom of SS. Chrysanthus and Daria, 
a number of Christians secretly came to the crypt to pray 
at the martyrs tomb. Information was given, and the Imperial 
authority with all haste directed that the entrance should 
be walled up. This was speedily done, and the group of Chris 
tian worshippers were thus buried alive. The bodies were 
found, as Gregory of Tours relates, and with them the euchar- 
istic vessels of silver they had brought for the celebration of 
the Holy Communion. 

Pope Damasus, who made this singular discovery in the 
latter years of the fourth century about a century after 
this wholesale martyrdom would not allow the group or 
the sacred tomb to be touched ; but simply in the piled-up 
stones caused a little window to be made, that pilgrims 
might look on and venerate this strange sad ^roup of 

De Rossi ever hoped to come upon this little window in 
question, and after fifteen centuries again to gaze with all 
reverence on this "miniature Christian Pompeii!" 

S. Gregory in the sixth century tells us the little window 
looking on this moving scene was shown to pilgrims of his 
day and time. 

De Rossi s hope nay more, his expectation of finding 
the window has not yet been gratified, the ruinous state of 
the catacomb preventing any exhaustive search. 

There are many martyrs tombs and historic crypts, we 
learn from the Pilgrim Itineraries, still to be uncovered in this 
group of cemeteries. 

The Cemetery of S. Priscilla. Recent researches have 
added much to our previous knowledge of this catacomb, 
and have confirmed De Rossi s judgment of its great antiquity 
and importance. Indeed, it ranks with the great network 
of the Callistus and Domitilla Cemeteries on the Appian and 
Ardeatina Roads not in extent perhaps, but certainly in 


antiquity and interest. It lies along the Salarian Way above 
described as on the north of the city. 

De Rossi s words are memorable : " The Cemetery of 
Priscilla is a centre where the various memories connected 
with the Churches of Pudens and Priscilla meet like lines 
drawn from different places." 

Now three of the most ancient churches of Rome- 
churches whose foundation stories were laid in apostolic 
times are referred to by the great scholar and archaeologist 
here. They are S. Pudentiana on the Viminal Hill, S. Pras- 
sedis on the Esquiline, and S. Priscilla (S. Prisca) on the 
Aventine. Of these S. Priscilla is no doubt the lineal descend 
ant of the church that was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, 
the friends of Paul. We trace it back to the fifth century. 
It is evident that before the fourth century the little church 
in the house of the tent-makers had become the public church 
of S. Priscilla. Its founders, the well-known Aquila and 
Priscilla, were buried in the Cemetery of Priscilla. 

Pope Leo iv in the ninth century specially refers to their 
tombs in the Priscilla Cemetery. 

The second of the three ancient churches, S. Prassedis, 
in common with S. Pudentiana, was on the vast estate which 
the family of Pudens possessed at the foot of the Esquiline. 
There is, however, no tradition extant as to when it was first 
founded. It is mentioned in an inscription of the fifth century 
in the Cemetery of S. Hippolytus, and again in the year 490 
in the Acts of the Council under the presidency of Pope 
Symmachus. It has been restored several times, and in the 
early Middle Ages is famous as the first place where Pope 
Paschal I deposited the remains of the 2400 martyrs which 
were translated for security s sake from the various catacombs. 

In our day and time this most ancient church is best 
known for the little chapel, called from its unusual and 
mysterious splendour " Orto del Paradise." It is commonly 
called the Chapel of S. Zeno, to whom it was originally dedi 
cated. S. Zeno suffered in the reign of Claudius (Gothicus), 
A.D. 268-70. He is buried in a crypt in the Cemetery of 
Praetextatus. S. Zeno is called in one of the Itineraries 
" The Brother of the S. Valentinus of the Catacomb on the 


Flaminian Way." This famous chapel contains one of the 
great relics of Rome, the column to which it is said our Saviour 
in His Passion was bound it is of the rarest blood jasper. 
In S. Prassedis are two ancient sarcophagi containing the 
remains of the two sainted sisters SS. Prassedis and Pudentiana, 
brought from their original tombs in the Cemetery of S. 
Priscilla at the time of the great translation of the remains 
of the saints by Paschal i. In the centre of the nave the well 
is still shown where S. Prassedis probably buried the remains 
of martyrs ; a similar well exists in the sister church of 
S. Pudentiana. 

The first of the three churches, S. Pudentiana, is by far the 
most interesting of the three. It is generally assumed to be 
the most ancient church in Rome ; originally so says the 
tradition it was the church in the house of a senator named 
Pudens, who received and gave hospitality to S. Peter. It 
is mentioned in inscriptions of the fourth century. Siricius, 
who followed Damasus in the Roman Episcopate, A.D. 384- 
398, restored it. This would imply that it had existed long 
before the age of the Peace of the Church. It has alas ! under 
gone many restorations since ; but it still preserves a magni 
ficent and stately mosaic in the apse, of the date of Siricius. 
This is the oldest piece of mosaic work in a Roman church. 
(S. Constantia with its beautiful mosaic roof, which is slightly 
older, was not in the first instance a church, but simply a 
mausoleum.) The figures of the two sisters SS. Prassedis 
and Pudentiana holding crowns, appear standing behind the 
Lord and His apostles. Recent investigations have brought 
other indications of its great antiquity to light, and Marucchi 
considers that yet more may be discovered. 

A close connection evidently exists between these most 
ancient churches and the Cemetery of Priscilla we are about 
to speak of. 

A very ancient document " the Acts of Pastor and 
Timotheus " which Baronius, Cardinal Wiseman, and others 
deem authentic, gives at some length the story of the founda 
tion of this very early Church of S. Pudentiana ; the majority 
of scholars, however, while acknowledging their great anti 
quity, hesitate to receive these " Acts " as belonging to the 


very early period at which they purport to be written. They 
probably, however, embody the substance of the generally 
received tradition. This ancient document consists of two 
letters ; the first from one Pastor, a priest, addressed to 
Timotheus ; the second the answer of Timotheus. To these 
is added an appendix by Pastor, which takes up and com 
pletes the story. We give a portion of this : 

" Pudens went to his Saviour leaving his daughters, strength 
ened with chastity, and learned in all the divine law. These 
sold their goods, and distributed the produce to the poor 
and persevered strictly in the love of Christ. . . . They desired 
to have a baptistery in their house, to which the blessed Pius 
(the Bishop of Rome, A.D. 142-57) not only consented but with 
his own hand drew the plan of the fountain. ... By the 
advice of the blessed Pius, the enfranchisement of the Christian 
slaves was declared with all the ancient usages in the oratory 
founded by Pudens ; there at the festival of Easter 96 were 
baptized, so that henceforth assemblies were constantly held 
in the said oratory, which night and day resounded with 
hymns of praise. Many pagans gladly came thither to find 
the faith and receive baptism. . . . The blessed Bishop 
Pius himself often visited it with joy, and offered the sacrifice 
for us to the Saviour. 

" Then Pudentiana went to God. Her sister (Prassedis) 
and I (Pastor) wrapped her in perfumes, and kept her concealed 
in the oratory. Then after 28 days we carried her to the 
Cemetery of Priscilla and laid her near her father Pudens." 

(Then follows an account of the death of Novatus, who, 
according to the Note in the Liber Pontificalis (2nd 
Recension) in the account of Pope Pius I, was apparently 
a brother of the two sisters ; he bequeathed his goods to 
Prassedis, who proceeded to erect a church in his Baths.) 

" At the end of two years a great persecution was declared 
against the Christians, and many of them received the crown 
of martyrdom. Prassedis concealed a great number of them 
in her oratory. . . . The Emperor Antoninus heard of these 
meetings in the oratory of Prassedis, and many Christians 
were taken. . . . The blessed Prassedis collected their bodies 
by night and buried them in the Cemetery of Priscilla. . . . 


Then the Virgin of the Saviour, worn out with sorrow, only 
asked for death. Her tears and her prayers reached to heaven, 
and 54 days after her brethren had suffered, she passed to 
God. And I, Pastor, the priest, have buried her body near 
that of her father Pudens." l 

To sum up the general tradition, which the recent investi 
gations in the Church of Pudentiana and in the Catacomb of 
S. Priscilla largely bear out : 

A disciple of the Apostles Peter and Paul, one Pudens, 
a Roman of senatorial rank and rich, received S. Peter in 
his house, which became a meeting-place for Christian folk 
at Rome in very early days. This subsequently became 
the Church of S. Pudentiana. Pudens had two daughters, 
Pudentiana and Prassedis. Later the Baths of Novatus 
(who was brother of the two sisters), which apparently formed 
part of the house or palace of Pudens, became a recognized 
meeting-place for Christians, and this subsequently was termed 
the Church of S. Pudentiana. 

The Cemetery of S. Priscilla on the Via Salaria also be 
longed to this Christian family, and was no doubt constructed 
on the property of the same Pudens. Pudens and his two 
daughters were buried in this cemetery. One portion of 
this catacomb was used as the burying-place of the illustrious 
family of the Acilii Glabriones which evidently numbered 
many Christian members. 

De Rossi believes that Pudens, the father of the two sisters 
Pudentiana and Prassedis, belonged to this illustrious house 
of the Acilii Glabriones. 

There was also evidently a near connection between the 
Aquila and Priscilla so closely associated with S. Paul and 
the family of Pudens. It has been suggested with great 

1 In two of the MSS. of the second edition or Recension of the Liber 
Pontificalis under the account of Pope Pins i (A.D. 142-57), we find the follow 
ing note, which contains much of the substance of the above extract from the 
" Acts " of SS. Pudentianre et Praxedis above quoted : " Hie (Pius) ex 
rogatu beate Praxedis dedicavit ecclesiam thermas Novati, in vico Patricii, 
in honore sororis sue sanetae Potentianae (Pudentianae), ubi et multa dona 
obtulit ; ubi sepius sacrificium Domino offerens ministrabat. Immo et 
fontem baptismi construi fecit, manus suas benedixit et consecravit, et multos 
venientes ad fidem baptizavit in nomine Trinitatis." 


probability that Aquila was a frcedman or client of Pudens, 
and that Aquila and his wife Priscilla were intimately con 
nected with the noble family we have been speaking of, Pris 
cilla, S. Paul s friend, being named after the older Priscilla. 
All these, w r e know, were buried in the Cemetery of Priscilla. 
The Priscilla who has given her name to the catacomb was 
the mother of Pudens. 

The foregoing little sketch, showing the connection of 
this Cemetery of Priscilla with these most ancient churches, 
is a necessary introduction to the description of the catacomb 
in question, which we have not hesitated to style one of the 
most important of the Roman cemeteries. It is, we think, 
one of the oldest, ranking here with the Cemeteries of Domitilla 
and the Lucina area of S. Callistus. Each of these three 
belongs probably to the first century of the Christian era. 

From the references in the Liberian Calendar, compiled 
A.D. 354, under the head of " Depositiones Martyrum " ; in 
the Liber Pontificalis, and in the Pilgrim Itineraries, we learn 
that in the Cemetery of Priscilla were interred the remains 
of many martyrs, confessors, and saints. There for several 
centuries rested the bodies of Aquila and Priscilla ; Pudens 
and his sainted daughters Prassedis and Pudentiana ; two 
of the martyred sons of S. Felicitas, Felix and Philip, who bore 
their witness in the days of the Emperor Marcus, and the 
Martyr Crescentius. Here too were buried seven of the 
Bishops of Rome, two of whom wear the martyr s crown 
Marcellinus and Marcellus, who suffered in the Diocletian 
persecution. These are the most notable, but many other 
martyrs were interred in this most ancient God s acre. 

Some of these hallowed remains, after the Peace of the 
Church in the fourth century, were brought up from the 
crypts of the great catacomb and laid in the basilica sub 
sequently known as S. Sylvester. 1 

1 See on p. 272, where details are given of the translation of these con 
fessors and of certain of the bishops of Rome originally interred in the 
Cemetery of S. Priscilla, into the basilica of S. Sylvester, erected over the 
Priscilla Catacomb by Pope Sylvester, and named after both. The basilica 
in question was discovered by De Rossi in A.D. 1889, in the course of his 
investigations at S. Priscilla. 






In the ninth century, when the great translation of the 
precious remains of the saints and martyrs from their old 
resting-places in the catacombs outside Rome to securer 
resting-places within the city, took place, the Cemetery of 
Priscilla in common with the other God s acres we term cata 
combs was despoiled of many of its sacred deposits. In 
common too with the other catacombs, S. Priscilla at once 
ceased to be an object of reverent pilgrimage, and was quickly 
forgotten, and remained forgotten for many hundred years. 
It has only been explored in the last thirty or forty years, and 
not yet by any means exhaustively. It was only in A.D. 1887 
that the crypt of the noble family of the Acilii Glabriones was 

Quite recent investigation and discoveries have now satisfied 
Marucchi, the last explorer and student of the catacombs, long 
the assistant and disciple of De Rossi, that the Cemetery of 
Priscilla must be identified as the locality of the preaching and 
teaching of S. Peter so often alluded to as the " Sedes ubi 
prius sedit sanctus Petrus " that the Cemetery of S. Priscilla 
was the "C&meterium ad Nymphas bcati Petri ubi baptizavemt." 
Marucchi has with infinite pains and scholarship proved his 
point, and has shown to a wondering group of interested 
scholars the very pools still filled with water in the dark crypts 
of S. Priscilla in which the great apostle probably baptized the 
first converts to the religion of his Master, for whom in the end 
he witnessed his noble confession on the Vatican Hill in the reign 
of the Emperor Nero. 

The Cemetery of Priscilla, as at present explored, consists 
roughly of two vast galleries ; many of its crypts and corridors 
dating from the first and second centuries. Their age is 
accurately determined, among other well-known signs, by the 
character of the decorative work and by the nature and phrase 
ology of the inscriptions ; the existence of the many Greek 
epitaphs is one other sure proof of the very early date of the 

From the notices in the Pilgrim Itineraries, notwithstanding 
their present often ruined and desolate condition, a good many 
of the original tombs of the more famous confessors and 
saints can be fairly identified. We will indicate a few of the 


more remarkable features of this important and venerable 

On the first story, the original tomb of Priscilla, according 
to the ancient Itineraries, is in a crypt close to an old entrance 
staircase. Close to the crypt is a large chamber of the second 
century, evidently used for public worship. Small chambers or 
chapels lead out of this large crypt, one of these being the 
famous Greek Chapel, so called in later times from some Greek 
inscriptions on the walls. The paintings on the walls are 
important and highly interesting. This ancient chapel was also 
used for worship. In the neighbourhood of this portion of the 
cemetery is a large crypt which from various sure signs, such as 
the evident desire on the part of many to make it their last 
home ; from the pillars on which once were placed the lamps 
which used ever to burn close to specially revered sanctuaries ; 
from the many means of access for pilgrims of the third and 
fourth centuries, was clearly the last resting-place of several 
of the more famous saints of the Catacomb of S. Priscilla. No 
inscription or graffiti of pilgrims have yet been deciphered 
to tell us who lay here. It has been suggested that Prassedis, 
Pudentiana, and other well-known saints were probably 
interred in or near this place. Marucchi calls attention to 
the great number of loculi in this cemetery, still untouched 
not rifled of their precious contents. The inscriptions on many 
of these loculi for the most part are very short and simple, 
containing little besides the name of the dead, -with just 
a brief beautiful reference to the sure hope of the dead in 

In this first or uppermost gallery of the catacomb on which 
we are dwelling, was discovered quite lately a very large crypt 
surrounded with corridors, sadly ruined, but with the remains 
of elaborate decoration still visible and with fragments of 
marble lying about, with pieces of sarcophagi and portions 
of inscriptions carefully carved, some in Greek, beautifully 
wrought. This area, which is quite distinct from the great 
cemetery in the midst of which it lies, once contained the 
remains of the Christian members of the noble Roman house of 
the Acilii Glabriones. From the inscriptions which have been 
found and deciphered, this bury ing-place of a famous family 


dates from the first century, and the interments from the first 
and following centuries. 

These Acilii Glabriones whose names occur and recur in the 
broken inscriptions were members of a distinguished family, 
holding a very high position in the aristocracy of Rome under 
the early Emperors. We learn a good deal about a head of this 
illustrious house, Acilius Glabrio, from the historians Suetonius 
and Dion Cassius. 

In the year of grace 91, Acilius Glabrio was consul, and 
excited the jealousy of the Emperor Domitian, who condemned 
him to fight with wild beasts in the gardens of one of the 
Imperial villas. From this deadly combat he came out 
victorious, but the hatred of the Emperor was not satisfied, 
and he exiled the powerful patrician, and eventually put him 
to death. 

The accusation against Acilius Glabrio seems to have been 
that he was among the " devisers of new things " (" molitores 
novarum rerum"). It was a vague and mysterious charge 
made against various persons of high degree in the reign of 
Domitian. The accusation was connected with the practice 
of some strange foreign superstition unknown to the State 
religion. This crime is now generally understood to have 
been the practice of Christianity, and Acilius Glabrio, Clemens 
the near kinsman of the Emperor, and many others alluded 
to by Suetonius who were arraigned under this charge and 
put to death, were evidently Christians. This conjecture, 
since the recent discovery of the great crypt of the Acilii 
Glabriones in the Priscilla Cemetery belonging to this noble 
house, has become a certainty, for the Christianity of those 
buried there has been absolutely proved from words and 
sacred Christian signs carved upon the broken slabs which 
once formed part of the sarcophagi and loculi bearing the 
family name. 

Thus, according to Marucchi, to Allard the well-known 
and scholarly historian of the Persecutions, and to De Rossi, 
Acilius Glabrio, the great patrician, the consul of the first 
century, the contemporary of the Apostles Peter and Paul 
and no doubt their friend and convert, was one of that aristo 
cratic group in Rome which accepted the faith of Jesus, a 


group of which so little is known, and whose very existence 
hitherto has been generally questioned ; and these, recog 
nizing the brotherhood of slaves and freedmen and the poorest 
and saddest of the dwellers of the great city, not only helped 
them in their life, and associated them in all their dearest and 
most certain hopes, but gave them the " hospitality of the 
tomb " constructing round the stately family crypt the 
corridors and funereal chambers where these poor and insigni 
ficant members of the Christian congregation might rest. 
The Priscilla Cemetery, dating as it does from the days of 
the apostle, is a great example of this loving Christian 

Now general tradition ascribes the foundation of this vast 
and ancient catacomb to Pudens, the wealthy senator ; to 
his mother Priscilla, of whom beyond her name we know 
nothing ; to her sainted daughters Prassedis and Pudentiana. 
The question then arises Was this Pudens a member of the 
great house of the Acilii Glabriones ? The leading Italian 
scholars in the lore of the catacombs think he certainly was. 
De Rossi even suspects that Pudens was the martyr consul 
himself. With our present knowledge this supposition cannot 
be decisively maintained. It is, however, an interesting hypo 

The Basilica of S. Sylvester, of which we shall speak pre 
sently, which was erected shortly after the Peace of the Church 
in the fourth century, was directly over the crypt of the 
Acilii Glabriones. 

A very remarkable feature in the Catacomb of S. Priscilla 
are the reservoirs of water, which evidently served in very 
early days as baptisteries. The most considerable of these 
reservoirs or tanks is on the upper story of the cemetery, and 
is communicated with by a broad staircase of over twenty-five 
steps, which come out behind what was once the apsidal end of 
the Basilica of S. Sylvester. Marucchi describes it as " une 
vaste piscine encore pleine d eau, desservie par un petit canal." 
This great baptistery became, from the fourth century onward, 
a spot of intense interest to the many pilgrims who visited 
the catacomb sanctuaries. 

Another large reservoir of water has been found on the 


second story of this vast catacomb ; other and smaller 
tanks have also been found. 

Marucchi believes that this cemetery is the one alluded 
to in the many traditions, including the notices in the Pilgrim 
Itineraries, as the special scene of S. Peter s labours and 
preaching, teaching and baptizing, as the " ccemeterium 
beati Petri ubi baptizaverat," as the " sedes ubi prius sedit 
sanctus Petrus." 

The investigation which has led to recent discoveries in 
this cemetery had not been completed when De Rossi identi 
fied the Coemeterium Ostrianum (of which we spoke above) 
as the scene of S. Peter s work. It is these latest " finds " 
that have induced Marucchi to fix the Priscilla Cemetery 
as the place where the great apostle laboured in those early 
years of the history of Roman Christianity. 

Beneath the first vast gallery of this catacomb with its many 
memories of saints and martyrs, including the famous crypt 
of the " Acilii Glabriones " house, lies another and very 
ancient area of sepulchral galleries. 

This area was communicated with by several staircases, 
some of which are now completely closed. This vast sepul 
chral area has been as yet only partially explored. It is 
described roughly as consisting of a long gallery, out of 
which lead more than twenty other galleries, many of which 
as yet are only imperfectly investigated. 

Marucchi, who has devoted a long and important section 
of his great work to the Priscilla Catacomb, writes of this 
second story of the cemetery as the most extensive and care 
fully planned of all the cemeteries of subterranean Rome 
that have been yet examined. 

His words here are remarkable, and must be quoted : " On 
peut dire sans exaggeration, que c est la region cemeteriale 
la plus vaste et la plus reguliere de toute la Rome souterraine." 

The masonry used in its construction ; its many inscrip 
tions on the loculi, carved in marble, or painted in red on 
tiles, all bear witness of its hoar antiquity ; much of it 
dates certainly from the second century. It contains, as we 
have remarked already, a reservoir or tank of water of 
course a baptistery deep and of considerable size. 


This singular feature, when taken in conjunction with the 
great tank or reservoir of the first story and the several smaller 
tanks or reservoirs discovered in the various corridors and 
sepulchral chambers peculiarities and features possessed 
by no other catacomb amply justifies the ancient appella 
tion " ad Nymphas," which no doubt exclusively belongs 
to the Cemetery of S. Priscilla, and which in several parts 
seems to preserve a memory of the baptisms of S. Peter. 

Over most of the catacombs certainly over the more 
important shortly after the Peace of the Church, basilicas 
or churches of various dimensions were erected for the accom 
modation of pilgrims and members of the Roman congrega 
tions who desired to visit and to venerate the sanctuaries of 
the subterranean cemeteries which soon became famous and 
objects of reverence in the Christian world. The basilica 
subsequently known as S. Sylvester, which was built over 
the Cemetery of Priscilla, no doubt before the year 336, has 
perhaps obtained a greater notoriety than any other of these 
fourth-century cemetery churches. 

Into this basilica, apparently shortly after its erection, 
were translated many of the bodies of martyrs, whose remains 
had been in the first instance deposited in the crypts of S. 
Priscilla beneath. The Pilgrim Itineraries dwell upon this, 
and especially mention how under the high altar of S. Syl 
vester two of the martyred sons of S. Felicitas rested Felix 
and Philip. 

Into S. Sylvester, too, were brought the remains of the two 
martyr Popes, Marcellus and Marcellinus. There also Pope 
Sylvester, the builder of the basilica after whom it has been 
named, was interred ; and at his feet Pope Siricius, the suc 
cessor of Pope Damasus. Three more of the occupants of the 
papal dignity have been interred in this honoured sanctuary, 
namely, Liberius, A.D. 353-5 ; Celestinus, A.D. 422-32 ; and 
at a somewhat later date Pope Vigilius, A.D. 538-55 ; in all 
the remains of seven of the Bishops of Rome rested in S. 

Indeed, this little basilica ranks as the third of the sacred 
places of interment of the Bishops of Rome. The first is on 
the Vatican Hill in the immediate neighbourhood of the 


grave of S. Peter where ten or eleven of the first occupants 
of the See of Rome lie. The second is the famous so-called 
Papal Crypt in the Cemetery of S. Callistus on the Appian 
Way. The third is the Basilica of S. Sylvester over the 
Cemetery of Priscilla. The fourth is once more on the Vatican 
Hill, near the grave of S. Peter, in the stately church erected 
by the Emperor Constantine on the site of the little Memoria 
chapel of Linus. 

It has been well suggested that in each instance the selection 
of the spot for the formal creation of an official papal burying- 
place was influenced by some direct memory of S. Peter 
which was attached to the spot in question. In the case of 
the first and fourth this is obvious. 

In the case of the first was the little Memoria over the 
sacred tomb. In the case of the fourth the place selected 
was on the Vatican Hill under the shadow of the house of 
God erected by Constantine over the first Memoria. 

Round the grave of S. Peter it was natural and fitting that 
the first Bishops of Rome should lie. When the space was 
entirely filled up, as was the case at the close of the second 
century, and a fresh official burying-place for the Bishops 
had to be found, Zephyrinus and Callistus were, with great 
probability, directed to that great cemetery which at a very 
early date bore the name of Callistus, on account of the 
memories of S. Peter and S. Paul, which were connected with 
the adjacent cemetery " ad Catacombas " (S. Sebastian) ; 
and Marucchi thinks some treasured memory of the great 
apostle connected with the beautiful legend of the " Quo 
vadis " a spot not far from the Callistus Cemetery hung 
round the God s acre selected for the site of the Papal Crypt. 

The third choice of a spot for the burying-place of the 
Popes, the basilica on the S. Priscilla Catacomb, has been 
attributed to the many memories of S. Peter associated with 
the Catacomb in question, which are now identified with the 
scenes of S. Peter s teaching and baptizing. 

There in the Basilica of S. Sylvester, until the great trans 
lation of the Catacomb saints in the pontificates of Paul i 
and Paschal I was carried out, the remains of the seven Popes, 
the two sons of Felicitas, and of many other famous and 


heroic martyrs rested. When, however, the precious treasure 
of these saints remains was removed to the securer shelter 
of the metropolis hard by, S. Priscilla s Catacomb and Basilica 
were soon forgotten. 

There is, alas ! little left of the basilica of S. Sylvester ; 
its very existence was unknown until De Rossi discovered 
its ruins in 1889. The subterranean crypt and corridors and 
baptisteries have fared better than the basilica built above 
them, and have already provided an almost inexhaustible 
mine of riches for the antiquarian, the theologian, and the 
historian ; and in coming years, when further investigations 
in this vast historical cemetery are carried out, discoveries 
of a yet greater interest may be looked for discoveries, to 
use the words of the latest toiler in S. Priscilla, which 
may tell us more of the "passing by" of S. Peter in 
this venerable home of so many and such varied sacred 


Cemetery of S. Pamphilus. S. Pamphilus, we learn from 
the Itineraries, was a martyr ; nothing, however, is known of 
his history. 

The cemetery has not been thoroughly explored. It is, 
however, of some importance. Several galleries have been 
partially examined but with some risk. 

The Via Solaria Vetus, by the side of which this Catacomb, 
is situated, branches off from the Via Pinciana on the north 
of the city. 

Cemetery of 5. Hermes and S. Basilissa is on the same 
road, a little farther from the city. 

The " Acts of S. Hermes " are not accepted as belonging 
to the very early date (A.D. 119 when Hadrian was Emperor) 
of the martyrdom, the particular event they profess to relate. 
These Acts relate that Hermes was a Prefect of Rome. No such 
name occurs in the lists of Prefects. It has been suggested, 
however, that he was an official of the Prefect. 

The remains of a very considerable basilica have been 


discovered in this Catacomb ; a yet older building apparently 
existed in the same position. 

The galleries of graves that have been partially explored 
are in a very ruinous and dangerous condition. It is recorded 
that the body of S. Hermes was translated by Pope Gregory 
IV in the ninth century. There are parts of this crumbling 
cemetery evidently of great antiquity. 

Other martyrs, once well known, rest in this Cata 
comb ; of these, S. Basilissa, S. Protus and S. Hyacinthus 
are perhaps the best known. SS. Protus and Hyacinthus 
apparently suffered in the persecution of Valerian, A.D. 257-8. 
The tomb of S. Basilissa has not been identified. 

The remains of S. Hyacinthus were found as late as 1841 
in a closed loculus and wrapped in a cloth which still emitted 
a sweet perfume. The bones had evidently been burned. 
It has been suggested that probably the martyr had suffered 
by fire ; this was an unusual form of martyrdom. The name 
of the saint and date of the deposition and the word Martyr 
were on the loculus. The inscription and the hallowed remains 
are now in the Church of the Propaganda. 

Probably further investigation will be made in this inter 
esting but ruined Catacomb. Researches here, however, are 
difficult and dangerous. Much of the work of Damasus in the 
later part of the fourth century has been recognized in this place. 
This cemetery was apparently held in high estimation by the 
earlier pilgrims. 

The Itineraries speak of another cemetery on the Via 
Salaria Vetus under the name of "ad Clivum Cucumeris." 
but it has not as yet been identified. 

Cemetery of S. Valentinus. The old Via Flaminia leaves 
the city at its north-east corner, and is a direct continuation 
of the Corso. It is the great road communicating with the 
north of Italy, as the Via Appia does with South Italy. It 
passes through the Porta del Popolo, formerly the Gate of 
S. Valentinus ; in old days it was termed the Flaminian Gate. 
On this Via Flaminia not very far from the city there is the 
Catacomb of S. Valentinus the only cemetery on this road. 

S. Valentinus is the last of our long catalogue of subter 
ranean cemeteries. Little is known of the confessor and 


martyr after whom this Catacomb is named. His " Acts," as 
we possess them, were only compiled in the sixth century. 
Valentinus suffered martyrdom circa A.D. 268-70. (Claudius 
Gothicus was then Emperor.) He is stated to have been a 
Christian priest and physician. 

The martyr s body was recovered by Sabinilla, a Christian 
lady, and was buried near the place where he suffered. The 
desire to be buried near S. Valentinus led to further excava 
tions, but the tufa in this place was too hard and did not 
lend itself to the formation of galleries. Corridors were ex 
cavated above the tomb of the martyr ; little, however, of 
interest has been found as yet. A third gallery was also 
constructed. It was the second gallery above the grave 
of the martyr which became the public cemetery, but it has 
been only very partially examined ; much is still blocked up. 

Some time after the Peace of the Church, under Pope Julius, 
A.D. 337-52, a basilica named after S. Valentinus was built 
a little to the right of the martyr s crypt. This church was 
restored, probably rebuilt, by Pope Honorius I, A.D. 625-38. 
The ruins of this Church of S. Valentinus have been recently 
brought to light. The Itineraries speak of the body of S. 
Valentinus as in the restored basilica. These sacred remains 
were, as in other cases, no doubt translated from their original 
resting-place into the church above. The bodies of other 
martyrs who probably suffered in the Diocletian persecution 
are alluded to in the Pilgrim Guides. In the ruins of the 
basilica a chapel was identified by an inscription as having 
been dedicated to certain of the local martyrs, and with these 
nameless saints S. Zeno is mentioned by name. S. Zeno was 
evidently once highly venerated. His presence here is 
accounted for by a notice in one of the Itineraries, which 
styles him " frater Valentini," possibly only signifying 
" frater in Passione." 

S. Zeno was buried in the well-known Cemetery of Prae- 
textatus on the Appian Way. He is perhaps best known 
now from the famous Chapel of S. Zeno in the Church of S. 
Prassedis, the work of Pope Paschal i usually called the 
" Orto del Paradise." A mosaic in that beautiful chapel 
pictures the two martyrs S. Valentinus and S. Zeno together. 



BARONIUS, followed by Bishop Lightfoot of Durham and 
others, calls attention to an etymological difficulty which 
exists in attempting to derive Petronilla from Petros, which 
at first sight seems so obvious. These scholars prefer to 
connect the name " Petronilla " not with Petros but with 
" Petronius." Now, the founder of the Flavian family was 
T. Flavius Petro. Lightfoot then proceeds to suggest that 
" Petronilla " was a scion of the Flavian house, and became 
a convert to Christianity, probably in the days of Antoninus 
Pius, and was subsequently buried with other Christian mem 
bers of the great Flavian house in the Domitilla Cemetery. 

De Rossi, however, and other recent scholars in the lore 
of the Catacombs, in spite of the presumed etymological 
difficulty, decline to give up the original " Pe trine " tradition, 
but prefer to assume that Petronilla was a daughter, but 
only a spiritual daughter, of the great apostle that is, she 
was simply an ordinary convert of S. Peter s. 

Of these two hypotheses : (a) dealing with the first, in the 
very free and rough way in which the Latin tongue was 
treated at a comparatively early date in the story of the 
Empire, when grammar, spelling, and prosody were very 
frequently more or less disregarded save in highly cultured 
circles, the etymological difficulty referred to by Lightfoot 
can scarcely be pressed, for it possesses little weight. 

(b) As regards the second hypothesis the shrinking, 
which more modern Roman Catholic theologians apparently 
feel, from the acknowledgment that S. Peter had a daughter 
at all, was absolutely unknown in the earlier Christian cen 
turies. To give an example. As late as the close of the 



eighth century, on an altar of a church in Bourges dedicated 
to the Blessed Virgin and other saints, there is an inscription 
attributed to Alcuin the scholar minister of Charlemagne. 
In this inscription occurs the following line : 

" Et Petronilla patris praeclari filia Petri." 

Now, towards the close of the fourth century, Pope Siricius, 
between A.D. 391 and A.D. 395, constructed the important 
basilica lately discovered in the Domitilla Cemetery on the 
Via Ardeatina ; but although the basilica in question con 
tained the historic tombs of the famous martyrs SS. Nereus 
and Achilles, confessors of the first century, as well as the 
body of S. Petronilla, he dedicated the basilica in question 
in her honour. Pope Siricius would surely have never named 
this important and very early church after a comparatively un 
known member of the Flavian house ; still less would he have 
called it by the name of a simple convert of the great apostle. 

In Siricius eyes there was evidently no shadow of doubt 
but that the Petronilla for whom he had so deep a veneration 
was the daughter of S. Peter, and nothing but such an illus 
trious lineage can possibly account for the persistent devotion 
paid to her remains, a devotion which, as we have seen, 
endured for many centuries ; the ancient tradition that she 
was the daughter of the apostle was evidently unvarying and 

It was left to the modern scholar in his zeal for. the purity 
of the language he admired, and for the modern devout 
Romanist in his anxiety to show that S. Peter was free from 
all home and family ties, to throw doubts on the identity 
of one whom an unbroken tradition and an unswerving rever 
ence from time immemorial regarded as the daughter of the 
great apostle so loved and revered in Rome. 

In other places besides in Gaul and Rome we find traces 
of this very early cult of S. Petronilla. In the neighbourhood of 
Bury St. Edmunds her memory was anciently reverenced ; 
under the curious abbreviation of " S. Parnel," still in that 
locality, there is a church named after her at Whepstead, 
Bury St. Edmunds. A yet more remarkable historical refer 
ence appears in " Leland s Itinerary," an official writing, 


be it understood, which dates circa A.D. 1539-40. Leland, 
writing of Osric, somewhile king of Northumbria, the founder 
of the famous Abbey of Gloucester, tells us how this King 
Osric " first laye in St. Petronell s Chappel," of the Gloucester 
Abbey. Osric died in the year of grace 729. 

Thus before her body, at the instance of the Prankish 
King Pepin, was translated into the little imperial mausoleum 
hard by the great Basilica of S. Peter from her tomb on the 
Via Ardeatina, there was a Mercian chapel named after this 
Petronilla in the heart of the distant and only very imper 
fectly christianized Angle-land (England). 

In the " Historia Monasterii S. Petri Gloucestriae," a docu 
ment, or rather a collection of documents, of great value, 
we find an entry which tells us how Kyneburg, the sister of 
King Osric, and first abbess of the religious house of Glou 
cester, ruled the house for twenty-nine years, and, dying in 
A.D. 710, was buried before the altar of S. Petronilla ; and later 
an entry in the same Historia relates that Queen Eadburg, 
widow of Wulphere, king of the Mercians, abbess of Glou 
cester from A.D. 710 to A.D. 735, was buried by the side of 
Kyneburg before S. Petronilla s altar. King Osric himself, 
who died in A.D. 729, was buried in the same grave as his 
sister Kyneburg, or as it is expressed in the " Historia," 
"in ecclesia Sancti Petri coram altari sanctae Petronillae, in 
Aquilonari parte ejusdem monasterii." 

Professor Freeman quaintly comments here as follows : 
"It is certain that there was a church of some kind, a pre 
decessor, however humble, of the great Cathedral Church (of 
Gloucester) that now is, at least from the days of Osric (circa 
A.D. 729). But more than this we cannot say, except that 
it contained an altar of S. Petronilla." 


S. Peter s Tomb. While Pope Paul v s task of destroying 
and rebuilding the eastern end of old S. Peter s (the work 


of Constantine) was proceeding, somewhat before A.D. 1615 the 
same Pope designed to make the approaches to the sacred 
" Confession " of the apostle at the west end of the church more 
dignified, and it was in the course of building stairs and making 
certain excavations which were necessary to carry out his 
plans that his architect came upon a number of graves in 
the immediate neighbourhood of the walls which encircled 
the hallowed tomb of S. Peter. Here was evidently the old 
Cemetery of the Vatican which originally had been planned 
in the first century by Anacletus. Some memoranda of this 
discovery were made. But it was a few years later, when 
more important excavations were carried on in the pontificate 
of Pope Urban vm (Cardinal Barberini) in connection with 
the foundations necessary for the support of the enormous 
baldachino of bronze over the high altar, that this most ancient 
cemetery was more fully brought to light. 

The circumstances which led to these discoveries of 
Urban vm were as follows : The date is about A.D. 1626 ; 
Bernini was the architect in the Pope s confidence, and it was 
determined to replace the existing canopy over the altar and 
confession, which was considered too small and insignificant 
for its position, by the great and massive bronze baldachino 
which now covers the high altar and the confession leading 
to the sacred tomb. 

The materials for this mighty canopy and its pillars were 
obtained from the portico of the Pantheon, the roof of 
the portico of that venerable building being stripped of its 
gilded bronze. This portico had survived from the days of 
its builder Agrippa, the son-in-law of the Emperor Augustus. 

The act of Urban vm, thus robbing one of the remaining 
glories of ancient Rome, was severely criticised in his day, 
and the well-known epigram survives to commemorate this 
strange act of late " vandalism " : " Quod barbari non 
fecerunt, fecit Barberini." 

The new baldachino or canopy of Bernini s was 95 feet 
in height, and is computed to weigh nearly 100 tons. To 
support this enormous weight of metal it was judged neces 
sary to construct deep and extensive foundations. It was 
in the digging out and building up of these substructures 



in the immediate vicinity of the apostle s tomb that the re 
markable discoveries we are about to relate were made. 

The account from which we quote is virtually a semi 
official proces-verbal, and was compiled by an eye-witness 
Ubaldi, a canon of S. Peter s, who was present when the dis 
coveries were made, and who has left us his notes made on 
the spot and at the time. Singularly enough, the memoranda 
of Ubaldi lay disregarded, hidden among the Vatican archives 
until comparatively recently. They were found 1 by one of 
the keepers of these archives, and have been published lately 
by Professor Armellini. 

Before, however, giving the extracts from Ubaldi s memor 
anda of the discoveries in the Cemetery of Anacletus in the 
year 1626, it will be of material assistance to the reader if 
a short account of the probable present position and state 
of the great apostle s tomb is subjoined. It will be borne 
in mind that the excavations in connection with Bernini s 
baldachino were carried out close to the tomb in ques 

The vault, in which we believe rests the sarcophagus 
w r hich contains the sacred remains of the apostle, lies now 
deep under the high altar of the great church. It was always 
subterranean, and no doubt from the earliest days was visited 
by numbers of believers belonging not only to the Roman 
congregation, but by pilgrims from many other countries. 
Pope Anacletus, to accommodate these numerous pilgrim 
visitors, built directly over the tomb a little Memoria 
or chapel. This apparently was done by raising the walls 
of the vault beneath, and thus a chamber or chapel above 
was provided. This Memoria of Anacletus is generally 
known as the confession. Both these chambers now lie 
beneath the floor of the existing church. Originally the 
Memoria of Anacletus above the chamber of the tomb 

1 The important and interesting details which follow here have been 
largely taken from the chapter which treats of Uhaldi s Memoir by Mr. Barnes 
in his admirable and massive work entitled 5. Peter at Rome (ist edit. 1900). 
The writer of this book can hardly find terms to express his deep admiration 
for the learning and information contained in Mr. Barnes work on the subject. 
It is by far the most exhaustive and scholarly work on the subject in our 


showed above ground ; it is no doubt the " Tropaeum " 
alluded to by the Presbyter Caius, circa A.D. 210. 

Roughly, the height of the two chambers from the floor 
of the original vault to the ceiling of the Memoria built 
over it is some 32 feet. There is little difference in the height 
of each of these two chambers. 

The probable explanation of the details given in the Liber 
Pontificalis of the works of Constantine the Great at the tomb 
is as follows : Both the chambers of the tomb the original 
vault and the Memoria of Anacletus over it were left 
intact, but with certain added features, simply devised with 
the view of strengthening and ensuring the permanence of 
the sacred spot and its contents. The whole of the chamber 
of the tomb was then filled up with solid masonry, except 
immediately above the sarcophagus. 

The upper chamber, the Memoria, was strengthened 
with masses of masonry on each side, so as to bear the weight 
of a great altar, the high altar of the Basilica of Constantine, 
which was erected so as to stand immediately over the body 
of S. Peter. A cataract or billicum, as it is sometimes called, 
covered with a bronze grating, opened from above close to the 
altar. There are two of these little openings, one leading 
into the Memoria, and the other from the Memoria to the 
chamber of the tomb beneath. Through these openings 
handkerchiefs and such-like objects would be lowered so as 
to touch the sarcophagus. This we know was .not unfre- 
quently permitted in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth 
centuries. Such objects after they had touched the cofHn 
were esteemed as most precious relics. 

In addition to these works in the two chambers, the Em 
peror Constantine enclosed the original stone coffin which 
contained the remains of S. Peter in bronze, and laid upon this 
bronze sarcophagus the great cross of gold the gift of his 
mother Helena and himself. This is the cross which Pope 
Clement vm and his cardinals saw dimly gleaming below, 
when an opening to the tomb was suddenly disclosed in the 
great building operations which were carried out during the 
last years of the sixteenth century. 

There is scarcely room now for doubt that the bronze 


coffin and the golden cross are still in the chamber of the 
tomb where Constantine placed them. 

When it was found necessary to excavate for the founda 
tion of the new massive baldachino, Pope Urban vm was 
alarmed at first lest the sacred tomb should be disturbed. 
The warnings of Pope Gregory the Great against meddling 
with the tombs of saints like Peter and Paul being remembered, 
" no one dare even pray there," he once wrote, " without 
much fear/ 1 Three years were spent in preparation for the 
work and in casting the baldachino. Then the sudden death 
of Alemanni, the custodian of the Vatican library, who had 
the chief charge in the preparative work, and the passing away 
of two of the Pope s confidential staff just as the work com 
menced, appalled men s minds ; but after some hesitation it 
was decided to go on with the necessary excavations " All 
possible precautions," Ubaldi tells us, " being taken for the 
preservation of the reverence due to the spot, and for the 
security of the relics." The Pope commanded, " that while 
the labourers were at work there should always be present 
some of the priests and ministers of the Church." 

Ubaldi describes at length what was found, when each of the 
four foundations for the four great columns of the baldachino 
was dug out. We will quote a few of Ubaldi s memoranda, 
and then give a little summary of what apparently was dis 
covered in this perhaps the most ancient, certainly the most 
interesting, of the subterranean cemeteries of Christian Rome. 

In the excavation of the first foundation " only two or 
three inches under the pavement they began to find coffins and 
sarcophagi. Those nearest to the altar (above) were placed 
laterally against an ancient wall" (this was doubtless part 
of the wall of the Memoria of Anacletus), " and from this 
they judged that these must be the bodies buried nearest to 
the sepulchre of S. Peter. These were coffins of marble made 
of simple slabs of different sizes." Only one seems to have 
borne an inscription, and that was the solitary word " Linus." 
Was not this the coffin of the first Pope, the Linus saluted in 
S. Paul s Roman Epistle ? 

Two of these coffins were uncovered. The bodies, which 
were clothed with long robes down to the heels, dark and 


almost black with age, and which were swathed with bandages, 
. . . when these were touched and moved they were resolved 
into dust. . . . We can only conclude that those who 
were found so close to the body of S. Peter must have been 
the first (Martyr) Popes or their immediate successors. . . . 

" On the same level, close up to the w r all (of the Memoria) 
were found two other coffins of smaller size, each of which 
contained a small body, apparently of a child of ten or twelve 
years old." Were these, whose bodies had obtained the pri 
vilege of interment so close to the grave of S. Peter, little 
martyrs ? . . . Close by ... were two (coffins) of ancient 
terra -cotta full of ashes and burnt bones, . . . other fragments 
of similar coffins were found deeper down as the excavations 
proceeded, and also pieces of glass from broken phials. It was 
evident that all this earth was mixed with ashes and tinged 
with the blood of martyrs. . . . There were also found pieces 
of charred wood which one might believe had served for the 
burning of the martyrs, and had afterwards been collected as 
jewels and buried there with their ashes." 

A little farther on Ubaldi writes, still speaking of what 
was found where the first foundation was excavated : " There 
was next found a small well in which were a great number 
of bones mixed with ashes and earth ; then again another 
coffin ; near this was found another square place on the sides 
of which more bodies were found, while on one side was the 
continuation of a very ancient wall (the Memoria of Anacletus). 
This wall contained a niche which had been used as a sepulchre, 
and in it were found five heads fixed with plaster and care 
fully arranged, also being well preserved. Lower down were 
the ribs all together, and the other parts in their order mingled 
with much earth and ashes, not laid casually, but with 
accuracy and great care. All this holy company were shut 
in and well secured with lime and mortar. . . . 

" It now became necessary to consider how the holy bones 
and bodies which had been taken up might best be laid in 
some fitting and memorable place ; they had been placed in 
several cases of cypress wood, and had been carried before the 
little altar of S. Peter in the confession, and here all through 
these days they had been kept locked up and under seal. 


It was felt that they ought not to be deprived of the privilege of 
being near to the body of S. Peter. . . . So it was resolved that, 
as they had been found buried together and undistinguished 
by names, so still one grave should hold them all, since the 
holy martyrs are all one in eternity," as S. Gregory Naz- 
ianzen wonderfully says " ... a suitable and capacious 
grave was constructed " (close to the spot) " and there rein 
terment took place. The following inscription cut in a plate 
of lead was placed within the tomb 

Corpora Sanctorum prope sepulchrum sancti Petri inventa, 
cum fundamenta effoderentur CBYBIS Columnis (of the bal- 
dachino of Bernini} ab Urbano vui super hac fornice 
erectis, hie siul collecta et reposita die 28 Julii 1626 " 

In digging for the second foundation a very wonderful 
" find " was recorded. Ubaldi relates how, " not more than 
three or four feet down, there was discovered at the side a 
large coffin made of great slabs of marble. . . . Within 
were ashes with many bones all adhering together and half 
burned. These brought back to mind the famous fire in the 
time of Nero, three years before S. Peter s martyrdom, when 
the Christians, being falsely accused of causing the fire, and 
pronounced guilty of the crime, afforded in the circus of the 
gardens of Nero, which were situated just here on the Vatican 
Hill, the first spectacles of martyrdom. Some were put to 
death in various cruel ways, while others were set on fire, and 
used as torches in the night, thus inaugurating on the Vatican, 
by the light that they gave, the living splendour of the true 
religion. . . . These, so they say, were buried close to the 
place where they suffered martyrdom, and gave the first 
occasion for the religious veneration of this holy spot. . . . 
We therefore revered these holy bones, as being those of the 
first founders of the great basilica and the first-fruits of our 
martyrs, and having put back the coffin allowed it to remain 
in the same place." 

With great pathos Mr. Barnes, from whose translation 
of the Ubaldi Memoranda on the discoveries in the 
Cemetery of Anacletus these extracts are taken, describes 


the scene of the interment of these sad remains of the 
martyrs in the games of Nero. We quote a passage specially 
bearing on this strange and wonderful " find," where, after 
describing what took place in the famous games, he went on 
thus : 

" The horrible scene drew to a close at last ; the living 
torches, burning slowly, flickered and went out, leaving but 
a heap of ashes and half-burnt flesh behind them ; the crowds 
of sightseers wended their way back to the city, and silence 
fell again on the gardens of Nero. Then there crept out 
through the darkness, within the circus and along the paths 
of the gardens, a fresh crowd men and women, maidens and 
even little children, taking every one of them as they went 
their lives in their hands, for detection meant a cruel death 
on the morrow ; eager to save what they could of the relics 
of the martyrs : bones that had been gnawed by dogs and 
wild beasts ; ashes and half-burnt flesh, and other sad rem 
nants, all of them precious indeed in the sight of their brethren 
who are left, relics that must not be lost. . . . Close by the 
circus, on the other side of the Via Aurelia, some Christians had 
already a tiny plot of ground available for purposes of burial. 
There on the morrow, in a great chest of stone, were deposited 
all the remains that could be collected ; for it was out of the 
question to keep them separate one from another." It was 
the beginning of the Vatican Cemetery, hereafter to become 
so famous. " . . . More than 1600 years afterward, when 
the excavations were being made for the new baldachino 
over the altar tomb of S. Peter himself, the sad relics of this 
first great persecution were brought to light. But they 
were not disturbed, and still rest in the place where they were 
originally laid, where now rises above them the glorious dome 
of the first Church of Christendom." 

In the memoranda on the third foundation there is nothing 
of very special interest to note. 

On the fourth foundation Ubaldi wrote the following 
strange and peculiarly interesting note : " Almost at the level 
of the pavement there was found a coffin made of fine and 
large slabs of marble. . . . This coffin was placed, just as were 
the others which were found on the other side, within the 


circle of the presbytery, in such a manner that they were all 
directed towards the altar like spokes toward the centre of 
a wheel. Hence it was evident with how much reason this 
place merited the name of the Council of Martyrs. . . . 
These bodies surrounded S. Peter just as they would have 
done when living at a synod or council." 

These apparently were the remains of the first Bishops or 
Popes of Rome, for whom Anacletus made special provision 
when he arranged this earliest of cemeteries. Their names 
are, Linus whose coffin lies apart but still close to the apostle s 
tomb, Anacletus, Evaristus, Sixtus I, Telesphorus, Hyginus, 
Pius I, Eleutherius, and Victor. Victor was laid in this sacred 
spot in the year of grace 203. After him no Bishop of Rome 
was interred in the Cemetery of Anacletus on the Vatican 
Hill. Originally of but small dimensions, by that date it 
was filled up, and the successors of Pope Victor, we know, were 
interred in a chamber appropriated to them in the Cemetery 
of S. Callistus in the great Catacomb so named on the Appian 

The other interments in the sacred Vatican Cemetery in 
the immediate neighbourhood of the apostle s tomb some 
of the more notable of which have been noticed in our little 
extracts from the Ubaldi Memoranda were apparently the 
bodies or the sad remains of martyrs of the first and second 
centuries of the Christian era, or in a few cases of distinguished 
confessors of the Faith whose names and story are forgotten, 
but to whom Prudentius (quoted on p. 216) has alluded. 

There is an invaluable record of what lies beneath the 
high altar and the western part of the great Mother Church 
of Christendom. 

In a rare plan of this Cemetery of the Vatican drawn 
by Benedetto Drei, Master Mason of Pope Paul v, which 
apparently was made during the period of the first discoveries 
under Paul v, some time between A.D. 1607 and 1615, and 
which has received certain later corrections no doubt after 
the second series of discoveries consequent upon the excava 
tions for the foundations in the neighbourhood of the tomb 
of S. Peter, for the great bronze baldachino of Bernini in the 
days of Pope Urban vm, about A.D. 1626. 


This plan of Drei is most valuable, though not accurate 
in detail. It marks the position of some of the graves which 
were found, but not of all that were disclosed in the second 
series of discoveries under Urban vm. It was not issued 
until A.D. 1635. This later date explains the corrections 
which have been inserted. 





OUT of the many pages of Catacomb lore, the story of the 
Crypt of S. Cecilia and its recent discovery, and the 
identification of the burial-places of S. Felicitas and 
her seven sons, have been selected to be told here as specially 
interesting examples of the historical and theological im 
portance of these investigations among the forgotten ceme 
teries of subterranean Rome. 

Allard s words in his edition of Northcote and Brownlow s 
exhaustive resume of a portion of De Rossi s monumental work, 
deserve quoting. Writing of S. Cecilia, he says : 

" Les decouvertes modernes Font bien vengee du scepticisme 
ou de la prudence excessive de Tillemont : on sait aujourd hui 
que Sainte Cecile n est ni un mythe, ni une martyre venue de 
Sicile, mais une vraie Romaine, du plus pur sang remain ; sa 
noble et gracieuse figure est decidement sortie des brumes de la 
legende pour entrer dans le plein jour de 1 histoire." 

The " Acts " of her martyrdom in their present form are 
probably not older than the fifth century, although S. Cecilia 
suffered in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus, circa 
A.D. 177. But these " Acts " are undoubtedly very largely 
based upon a contemporaneous record : the recent discoveries 
have enabled historical criticism fairly to restore what was 
original in the story of the martyr. 
19 * 89 


Cecilia was a noble Roman lady, who belonged to a family 
of senatorial rank ; her father apparently was a pagan, or if a 
Christian at all was a man of the world rather than an earnest 
believer, for he gave his daughter in marriage to a young 
patrician, one Valerianus, a pagan, but a pagan of the highest 
character. Cecilia was a devoted Christian : at once she 
induced her husband and his brother Tiburtius to abjure 
idolatry. Accused of Christianity at a moment when the 
Government of the Emperor Marcus was determined to stamp 
out the fast-growing religion of Jesus, the two brothers were 
condemned to death, and they suffered martyrdom in company 
with the Roman officer who presided at their execution, and 
who, beholding the constancy of the two young patricians, 
embraced the faith which had enabled them to witness their 
good confession. 

Cecilia shared in their condemnation. The Government, 
however, dreading the example of the death of so prominent 
a personage in Roman society, determined to put her to death 
as privately as possible. She was doomed to die in her own 
palace. The furnaces which heated the baths were heated 
far beyond the usual extent, and Cecilia was exposed to the 
deadly and suffocating fumes. These failed in their effect : 
after being exposed in her chamber for a night and a day to 
these fumes, she was still living, apparently unharmed. The 
Prefect of the city, who was in charge of Cecilia s execution, 
then gave orders to a lictor to decapitate the young Christian 
lady who persistently refused to abjure her religion. 

There is nothing improbable in the story, which goes on to 
relate how the executioner, unnerved with his grim task, 
inflicted three mortal wounds, but Cecilia, though dying, yet 
breathed and preserved consciousness. 

The Roman law forbade more than three strokes with the 
sword, and she lived on for two days and nights, during which 
long protracted agony she was visited by her friends, among 
whom was a Bishop Urbanus, not the Urbanus Bishop of 
Rome, as the " Acts " with some confusion tell us, but another 
Urbanus, probably a prelate of some smaller see. 

After she had passed away, her body with all care and 
reverence was laid in a sepulchral chamber which subse- 


quently became part of the great Cemetery of Callistus. The 
martyr was interred evidently in a vault or crypt which 
belonged to her illustrious family ; several inscriptions belong 
ing to Christian members of the gens Csecilia have been found 
in the immediate vicinity of S. Cecilia s grave. Less than a 
quarter of a century after her martyrdom, the subterranean 
cemetery in which the Csecilian vault was situated became 
part of the general property of the Roman congregations. 
Callistus, afterwards Bishop of Rome, held a high office under 
Bishop Zephyrinus, and he was set over the cemetery, which 
was subsequently called after him, the Cemetery of Callistus. 
At the beginning of the third century as in the Vatican 
Crypt, where the earliest Bishops of Rome had been deposited 
round the body of S. Peter, there was no more room for 
interments Callistus arranged the sepulchral chamber known 
as the Papal Crypt to be the official burying-place of the Bishops 
of Rome. The chamber in which S. Cecilia was laid was 
close by this Papal Crypt. De Rossi graphically expresses 
this : " Ce n est done pas sainte Cecile qui fut enterree parmi 
les Papes, c est elle au contraire qui fit aux Papes du III me 
siecle les honneurs de sa demeure funebre." (From Allard.) 

We will trace the story of the celebrated Roman saint 
through the ages. 

The statement contained in the " Acts of S. Cecilia " 
of her interment in the Cemetery of S. Callistus no doubt is 
accurate, although the hand of a somewhat later " redactor " 
is manifest, for the cemetery only obtained its title of " Cal 
listus " some thirty years after the martyrdom of the saint. 
S. Cecilia at once seems to have won a prominent place among 
the martyrs and confessors of the persecution of Marcus 
Aurelius. This is accounted for not only by the dramatic 
scenes which a generally accepted tradition tells us were the 
accompanying features of her passion, but also by the high 
rank and position of the sufferer and her generous bequest to 
the Roman congregations. 

Towards the close of the fourth century S. Cecilia s crypt 
was among the popular sanctuaries specially cared for by 
Pope Damasus, much of whose work is still, in spite of centuries 


of neglect, clearly visible. Damasus work here was by no 
means confined to decoration, but included elaborate arrango 
ments for the visits of pilgrims to the shrine, such as a special 
staircase and considerable masonry work to secure the walls 
and approaches. Somewhat later, Pope Sixtus in, A.D. 
432-40, continued and amplified the decoration and con 
structive improvements of his predecessor Damasus. 

The decorations and paintings of this crypt, as at present 
visible, clearly date from the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventli 
centuries. De Rossi considers that the existence of these succes 
sive decorations, and the fact that various works, constructive 
as well as ornamental, were evidently at different epochs 
executed here, tell us that this is an historic sepulchral chamber 
highly venerated by many generations of pilgrim visitors. 

From very early times, most probably from the days of 
the Emperor Marcus, there has been a church traditional!) 
constructed on the site of an ancient house, the house o: 
the martyr Valerian, Cecilia s husband. Recent investigations, 
have gone far to substantiate the ancient tradition, for beneath 
the existing Church of S. Cecilia portions of an important 
Roman house of the second century have come to light. 

The church, originally a private house of prayer, at a 
very remote period became a public basilica. It had fallen 
into a ruinous condition, and was rebuilt by Pope Paschal ] 
in the ninth century. This restoration of the old basilican 
church no doubt suggested to Paschal his inquiry after the 
remains of the loved martyr in whose memory the church 
had been originally dedicated. The dramatic and well-authen 
ticated story of the finding of the body by Paschal is as follows : 


The great translation of the remains of the 2300 martyrs 
and confessors from the catacombs into the city for the sake 
of protecting these precious relics from barbarian pillage 
took place in the days of Pope Paschal I (ninth century). 
When this translation was going on, Paschal made an inquiry 
after the bury ing-place of S. Cecilia. Although the lengthy 
entry in the Liber Pontificalis makes no mention of any special 

c c 

* i 

ii o 

* O 


reason for this investigation, there is no doubt but that the 
restoration work which was being carried on at the basilica 
of the saint across the Tiber suggested it to the Pope. The 
tomb of the famous saint could not be found, although for 
centuries it had been emphatically alluded to in several of the 
Pilgrim Itineraries, and in the yet more ancient " Guide," subse 
quently copied by William of Malmesbury several centuries later. 

It was about the year of grace 821, after long and fruitless 
searching for the lost tomb, and when he had come to the 
conclusion that the body of S. Cecilia had been carried away 
probably by Astolphus and the Lombards in their destructive 
raids, and that the tomb had been destroyed, that Pope 
Paschal early one morning, while listening to the singing of the 
Psalms in the great Vatican Basilica, fell asleep ; as he slept 
he saw the form of a saint in glory ; she disclosed her name, 
" Cecilia," and told him where 1 to look for her tomb. 

Acting upon the words of the saint in the vision, he found 
at once the lost tomb, and when the coffin of cypress wood 
was opened, the body of Cecilia was seen unchanged, still 
wrapped in the gold-embroidered robe in which she had been 
clothed when her loving friends laid her to rest after her 
martyrdom, with the linen cloths stained with her blood 
folded together at her feet. 

She lay in the position in which she had passed away. 
Those who had buried her, left her thus not lying upon 
the back like a body in a tomb, but upon the right side, with 
her knees drawn together and her face turned away her 
arms stretched out before her. In her touching and graceful 
attitude she seemed as though she was quietly sleeping. 

Just as he found her, in the same coffin with the robe of 
golden tissue and the blood-stained linen folded by her feet, 

1 The text of the Liber Pontificals mentions the Cemetery of Praetextatus 
as the site of the lost tomb. It was there where her husband Valerian 
and his brother and the officer Maximus had been buried. Duchesne, 
the learned editor of the Liber Pontificalis, suggests that the body of 
S. Cecilia had been removed from its original resting-place in the Crypt 
of S. Callistus, and had been secretly placed for safety s sake in the Cemetery 
of Praetextatus. De Rossi, however, and later Marucchi, believe that the 
Cemetery of Praetextatus, through an error in the Liber Pontificalis, had been 
written for " Cemetery of Callistus." 


Pope Paschal reverently deposited her in a crypt beneath the 
altar of her church in the Trastevere district, simply covering 
the body with a thin veil of silk. 

Nearly eight hundred years after (A.D. 1599), Sfondrati, 
titular Cardinal of the Church, while carrying out some works 
of restoration and repair in this ancient Church of S. Cecilia, 
came upon a large crypt under the high altar. In the crypt 
were two ancient marble sarcophagi. Responsible witnesses 
were summoned, and in their presence the sarcophagi were 
carefully opened. In one of these the body of S. Cecilia lay 
just as it had been seen eight centuries before by Pope Paschal I 
in the same pathetic attitude, robed in gold tissue with the 
linen cloths blood-stained at her feet. 

Every care was taken by the reigning Pope Clement vin 
to provide careful witnesses of this strange discovery ; among 
these were the famous scholars Cardinal Baronius and Bosio ; 
the greatest artist of the day, Stefano Maderno, was summoned 
to view the dead saint and to execute the beautiful marble 
portrait which now lies in the recess of the Confession beneath 
the high altar of the well-known church in the Trastevere at 
Rome. In an inscription, Maderno, the artist, tells how he 
saw Cecilia lying incorrupt and unchanged in her tomb, and 
how in the marble he has represented the saint just as he 
saw her. 1 

1 The writer of this book simply tells the story as it has been handed down 
and often repeated. From the clear testimony of the responsible and eminent 
witnesses above referred to such men as Baronius, Bosio, and Maderno 
there seems little doubt but that they had looked upon the hallowed remains 
resting as Maderno in his marble portrait has depicted her. De Rossi and 
others seem to represent the state of the body as though it had been miraculously 
preserved ; the truth probably is that the body of Cecilia had been carefully 
and skilfully embalmed owing to the loving care of her friends, and laid in 
the peculiar position in which she breathed her last. The high rank and 
great wealth of her family, and the usual gentle and humane practice of the 
Roman Government in the case of those who had been judicially put to death, 
would bear out this explanation. No expense would have been deemed too 
great by the powerful family of Cecilia to do honour to her precious remains. 

Of the enduring " popularity " to use a commonplace expression of S. 
Cecilia, the fact of Cecilia being one of the few chosen female saints daily 
commemorated in the canon of the Mass, may be fairly adduced. She is classed 
with Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Anastasia, and Agnes. 

It is often asked why she is locked on as the 1 patroness of music. Nothing 


The second sarcophagus found by Cardinal Sfondrati in 
the crypt of the Church of S. Cecilia beneath the high altar, 
was also opened by him. It was found to contain the bodies 
of three men, who had clearly suffered violent deaths two of 
them had been decapitated, and the third had evidently been 
beaten to death by a horrible means of torture sometimes used 
the " plumbatae " leathern or metal thongs loaded with 
lead ; one of these, which evidently had been used in the 
death-scene of a martyr, was found in a crypt of this cemetery. 
These three were no doubt the remains of SS. Valerianus 
(the patrician husband of S. Cecilia), Tiburtius his brother, and 
the Roman officer Maximus, whose remains, brought no doubt 
by Pope Paschal I from the Praetextatus Cemetery where we 
know they had been interred, were deposited by him in the 
crypt of the Church of S. Cecilia close to the body of the 
famous martyr with whom they were so closely and gloriously 

The story of the discovery and certain identification of the 
original sepulchral chamber of S. Cecilia is vividly told by 
De Rossi with great detail. It was one of his important 
" finds." With the tradition before him with the clear 
references in the pilgrim traditions the great archaeologist 
was sure that somewhere in the immediate vicinity of the 
sepulchral chamber of the Popes or Bishops of Rome of the 

but pure tradition can be alleged here, but the tradition is a very ancient 
one. Wordsworth writes of her as 

" rapt Cecilia, seraph-haunted queen of harmony." 

Compare too references in Dryden, " Alexander s Feast," and Pope, " Ode on 
S. Cecilia." Raffaelle paints her as wrapped in ecstasy and surrounded by 
instruments of music. 

The tradition is that when Valerian, her husband, returned from baptism, 
he found her singing hymns of thanksgiving for his conversion. Angels, it 
is said, descended from heaven to listen to her sweet voice. 

No allusion, however, to her musical power is made in the Antiphone sung 
at her Festival. A verse of the appointed anthem runs thus : 

" While the instruments of music were playing, Cecilia sang unto the 
Lord and said, Let my heart be undefiled, that I may never be confounded. " 

In one of the chapels of the great Church of the Oratory in London there 
is a beautiful replica of the dead Cecilia of Maderno. 

There is another replica of Maderno s figure now placed in the niche of the 
recently-discovered crypt of S. Cecilia, where the sarcophagus which contains 
the body of the saint originally was placed. 


third century, must be sought the crypt where S. Cecilia lay 
for more than six centuries. 

First he discovered that adjoining the official Papal Crypt 
was another chamber, evidently of considerable size, in which 
a luminare l had been constructed, but the chamber and the 
luminare were choked up with earth and ruins. He proceeded 
to excavate the latter ; as the work proceeded, the explorers 
in the neighbourhood of the chamber came upon the remains 
of paintings. 

Lower down, almost on the level of the chamber, these 
paintings became more numerous and more distinct. The 
work of digging out went on slowly ; more paintings had 
evidently once decorated that ruined and desolate chamber 
of death one of them, a woman richly dressed, obviously 
represented S. Cecilia. Another of a bishop inscribed with 
the name of S. Urbanus, the bishop connected with the story 
of the saint. The paintings were of different dates, some as 
late as the seventh century. A door which once led into the 
Papal Crypt was found : remains of much and elaborate 
decorative work were plainly discerned, work of various ages, 
belonging some of it to the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries. 

In one of the walls of the chamber a large opening had 
been originally constructed to receive the sarcophagus of 
the martyr. 

All showed clearly that this had once been a very famous 
historic crypt, the resort of many generations of pilgrims, 
and its situation answered exactly to what we read in the 
Pilgrim Itineraries, in the Liber Pontificalis, and in other 
ancient authorities as the situation of the original burying- 
place of S. Cecilia. The subjects, too, of the dim discoloured 
paintings pointed to the same conclusion. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of the sepulchral chamber 
De Rossi counted some twelve or thirteen inscriptions telling 
of Christian members of the " gens Caecilia " who had been 
buried there all testifying to the fact that originally this 

1 A " luminare " (plural " luminaria ") was a shaft communicating with the 
surface of the ground wliich admitted light and air. Many of these were 
constructed by Pope Damasus in the fourth century for the sake of pilgrims 
visiting the lu storic crypts. 


portion of the great group of the so-called " Callistus " Cata 
comb was the property of the noble house in question, and that 
probably at an early date it had been made over to the Christian 
Church in Rome. The saint and martyr therefore had been 
laid amidst the graves of other members of her family. 1 

In the chain of testimony which has been brought together 
one link seems to call for an elucidation. How is it that 
Pope Paschal i failed at first to discover the sepulchral 
chamber of S. Cecilia, considering it lay so close to the famous 
Papal Crypt, and in fact communicated with it ? The answer is 
that no doubt at some time previous to his research the crypt 
of S. Cecilia had certainly been " walled up/ " earthed up," 
or otherwise concealed to protect this revered sanctuary from 
the prying eyes and sacrilegious hands of Lombards and other 
barbarian raiders. It must be remembered that for centuries 
the tomb of S. Cecilia had been one of the principal objects of 
veneration in this great cemetery. Signs of this later work 
of concealment were also discovered by De Rossi. 

De Rossi, in his summing up, comes to the conclusion 
that no doubt whatever rests upon the identification of the 
original burying-place of S. Cecilia, and that the sepulchral 
chamber discovered by him adjoining the Papal Crypt was 
the spot where her sarcophagus lay for centuries the actual 
chamber which was subsequently adorned and made accessible 
by Pope Damasus ; which was further decorated by several of 
his successors in the papacy ; and which was visited and 
venerated by successive generations of pilgrims from all 

In the ninth century the sarcophagus containing the sacred 
remains was translated as we have seen by Pope Paschal I, 
and brought to the ancient Basilica of S. Cecilia in the 
Trastevere, where it has rested securely ever since. In the 
year 1699 it was seen and opened and its precious contents 
inspected by Pope Clement vm, by Cardinal Sfondrati, by 
Cardinal Baronius, by Bosio and others, as we have related. 

1 In support of this conclusion, above ground, over this area of the great 
"Callistus" Cemetery, important Columbaria have been found belonging to 
the " gens Caecilia." Thus long before S. Cecilia s time the spot had been 
evidently the burying-place of the illustrious house to which she belonged. 


After the translation in the ninth century, the original 
crypt, in common with so many of the catacomb sanctuaries, 
was deserted and allowed to go to ruin utterly forgotten 
until De Rossi rediscovered it and reconstructed its wonderful 

Writing in the earlier years of the twentieth century, 
Marucchi, the follower and pupil of De Rossi, in his latest work 
on the Catacombs, reviews and fully endorses the conclusions 
of his great master on the question of the tradition of S. Cecilia s 

What we stated at the beginning of this little study is surely 
amply verified. S. Cecilia and her story no longer belong 
to mere vague and ancient tradition, but live in the pages oi 
scientific history. 


We will cite another example, and a yet more striking one, of 
the light thrown by the witness of the catacombs on important 
questions which have been gravely disputed, in connection 
with the history of the very early years of Christianity. 

Ecclesiastical historians of the highest rank have gravely 
doubted the truth of the story of the martyrdom of S. Felicitas 
and her seven sons l in the days of the Emperor Marcus about 
the middle of the second century. The splendid constancy in 
the faith of the mother and of her hero sons, in the opinion of 
these grave and competent critics was a recital almost entirely 
copied from the record of the Maccabean mother and her 
seven brave sons, and so the Passion of S. Felicitas and her 
sons has been generally consigned to the shelf of early legendary 
Christian history ; few historians would venture to quote as 
genuine this pathetic and inspiring chapter of the persecution 
of the Emperor Marcus. It is regarded as a piece of literature, 
devised in the sixth century or even later, and quite outside 
serious history. 

But recent investigations in the great subterranean city 
of the Roman dead have completely changed this commonly 
held view, and the episode in question must now take its 
place among the acknowledged Christian records of the 

1 The eldest of the " seven " was the well-known S. Januarius. 


middle of the second century. She belonged to the ranks 
of the great ladies of Rome ; her husband, of whom we know 
nothing, was dead, but Felicitas and her sons were well known 
in the Christian community of the capital, where she was 
distinguished for her earnest and devoted piety. 

Her high rank gave her considerable influence, and she 
was in consequence dreaded by the pagan pontiffs. These 
high officials, aware of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus 
hostility to the Christians, laid an information against the 
noble Christian lady as belonging to the unlawful religion. 
They represented her as stirring up the wrath of the immortal 
gods by her powerful influence among the people. Marcus 
at once directed the Prefect of the city, Publius, to see that 
Felicitas and her sons sacrificed in public to the offended 
deities. This was in the year of grace 162. 

The " Acts of the Passion," from which we are quoting 
here, no doubt with very little change represent the official 
notes or proces-verbal of the interrogatory at the trial. 

The Prefect Publius at first with great gentleness urged 
her to sacrifice, and then finding her obdurate, threatened 
her with a public execution. 

Finding persuasion and threats of no avail, Publius urged 
her, " If she found it pleasant to die, at least to let her sons 
live." Felicitas replied that they would most certainly live 
if they refused to sacrifice to idols, but if they did sacrifice, 
they would surely die eternally. 

The public trial subsequently took place in the open 
Forum ; again the Roman magistrate urged the mother to 
be pitiful to her sons, still in the flower of their youth, but 
the brave confessor, turning to the young men, told them to 
look up to heaven there Christ with His saints was waiting 
for them : " Fight," she said, " my sons, the good fight for 
your souls." 

The young men in turn were placed before him. The 
Prefect in the name of the Emperor offered them each a 
splendid guerdon and coveted privileges at the Imperial court 
if they would only consent to sacrifice publicly to the gods 
of Rome. One and all of the seven refused, preferring to die 
with their noble mother, choosing the other guerdon, the 


alternative guerdon offered in the name of the great Emperor, 
the fearful and shameful deaths to which an openly professing 
Christian in the days of Marcus was condemned by the stern 
Roman law. 

The interrogatory and the noble answers of mother and 
sons as contained in the " Acts of the Passion of S. Felicitas," 
are at once a stirring and pathetic recital. 

The final condemnation naturally followed. The death sen 
tences were confirmed by the Emperor, and sternly carried out. 

Felicitas and her seven sons suffered martyrdom, 1 and 
through pain and agony passed to their rest and bliss in the 
Paradise of their adored Master Christ. 

Around these " Acts " a continual war of criticism has 
been waged : the question has by no means as yet been 
positively decided. 

Tillemont hesitatingly expresses an opinion that they 
have not all the characteristics of genuine " Acts." Bishop 
Lightfoot is yet more positive in his view that they are not 
authentic. Aube repeats a similar judgment. On the 
other hand, De Rossi, Borghesi, and Doulcet accept them as 
genuine. But all are agreed that they are very ancient. 
The interrogatory portion is no doubt a verbatim extract 
from the original proces-verbal. 

The piece appears to have been originally largely written 
in Greek, but Gregory the Great, who refers to it, speaks of 
another and better text which we do not possess. One 
striking indication of its great antiquity is that no mention 
is made of the tombs of the martyrs. Had these "Acts" 
dated even from the fifth century this would not have 
been omitted, for in the fifth century the martyrdoms had 
obtained great celebrity. 

A very early mention of these tombs, however, we find 
in the so-called " Liberian " or " Philocalian " Catalogue, 

1 The manner of death of this illustrious family of Christian martyrs was 
as follows, as far as we can gather from the concise notices in the " Acts": 

Januarius, the eldest, was beaten to death by whips loaded with lead. 

The second and third brothers apparently met with the same doom. 

The fourth was thrown down from a height, and so died. 

The three remaining brothers and their mother Felicitas were dealt with 
more mercifully and were decapitated. 


which was partly composed or put together not later than 
the year of grace 334. The alternative name of the Catalogue 
is derived from Filocalus, the famous calligrapher of Pope 
Damasus, who most probably was the compiler of the work, 
which consists of several tracts chronological and topographical 
of the highest interest, some originally doubtless composed 
at a very early date. It contains, among other pieces, a 
Catalogue of Roman Bishops, ending w r ith Liberius, and a 
piece termed " Depositio Martyrum," in which the bury ing- 
places of the seven sons of Felicitas are carefully set out. 
This ancient memorandum has been of the greatest assistance 
to De Rossi and Marucchi in their identification of the original 
graves of the " seven." 

When De Rossi had penetrated into the cemetery of 
Prsetextatus on the Appian Way, he came upon what was 
evidently a highly decorated chamber, once lined with marble, 
and carefully built and ornamented. It was, he saw, an 
historic crypt of the highest interest. The vault of the 
chamber was painted, and the fresco decorations were still fairly 
preserved. The paintings represented garlands of vines and 
laurels and roses, executed with great taste and care ; the 
style and execution belonged to work which must be dated 
not later than the second century. Below the beautifully 
decorated vault was a long fresco painting of the Good 
Shepherd with sheep ; one sheep was on his shoulders. This 
painting has been sadly interfered with by a loculus, or grave, 
of later date, probably of the fourth or fifth century ; on 
the loculus in question could still be read the following little 
inscription perfect save for the first few letters : 


Some sixth-century Christians, anxious to lay their beloved 
dead close to the martyrs, had caused the wall of the chamber 
to be cut away, for the reception of the body, regardless of 
the painting, and then while the plaster was still fresh had cut 
these words of prayer, which may be translated, " May 
Januarius, Agatopus, 1 and Felicissimus refresh (the soul of . . .)." 

1 Agapitus is so spelt in the rough grafftte here referred to. 


Agatopus and Felicissimus were two of the deacons of Pope 
Sixtus n, who had (probably in the same catacomb) suffered 
martyrdom, A.D. 258. Their sepulchral chambers were subse 
quently identified. 

The question at once presented itself to De Rossi was 
not this chamber ornamented with paintings clearly of the 
second century, the crypt where S. Januarius had been laid ? 
All doubt on this point was subsequently cleared up, for 
eventually in many fragments the original inscription which 
Pope Damasus had caused to be placed over the door or near 
the altar was found. The inscription ran thus : 




The body of S. Felicitas the mother was laid in the cemetery 
in the Via Salaria Nova which bears her name. After the Peace 
of the Church towards the end of the first quarter of the fourth 
century, a little basilica was erected over the spot in the 
catacomb in question where the remains of the martyred 
mother had been deposited. As late as A.D. 1884, while digging 
the foundations of a house, the little basilica was discovered 
in Marucchi s words, " on y reconnut aussitot le tombeau de S te 
FeliciteY Paintings of the mother and her sons adorn the 
walls. Beneath the basilica was a crypt in which trie Salzburg 
Itinerary tells us lay her youngest son S. Silanus : the words 
of this Pilgrim Itinerary run thus : " Ilia pausat in ecclesia 
sursum et films ejus sub terra deorsum." 

At the end of the eighth century Pope Leo in translated 
the remains of the mother and son to the Church of S. Suzanna, 
near the Baths of Diocletian, where they still rest. 

In the Philocalian or Liberian Calendar, A.D. circa 334, an 
entry appears under the heading of " Depositio Martyrum," 
telling how two more of the seven martyred sons of Felicitas 
were buried in the Cemetery of S. Priscilla, namely, SS. Felix 
and Philip. 

After the Peace of the Church, the basilica subsequently 
known as S. Sylvester was erected over a portion of the great 


Priscilla Cemetery, and many of the bodies of the more famous 
martyrs were brought up from the subterranean galleries and 
chambers and buried in conspicuous places in the new Basilica 
of S. Sylvester ; amongst these were the remains of the two 
sons of Felicitas, SS. Felix and Philip. This is carefully 
described in the Pilgrim Itineraries or Guides. These two 
well-known martyrs were deposited under the high altar of 
S. Sylvester. In the second Salzburg Itinerary, known as 
" De locis SS. Martyrum," they are thus specially mentioned : 
" S. Felicis [sic] unus de septem et S. Philippus unus de 
septem," and in William of Malmesbury, copying from a much 
older Itinerary, we read, " Basilica S. Silvester ubi jacet 
marmoreo tumulo co-opertus . . . Martyres . . . Philippus et 
Felix." Marucchi thinks he can point out the tomb in the 
subterranean crypt where the two originally were laid. 

The three remaining sons of Felicitas, namely, SS. Alex 
ander, Vitalis, and Martialis, were interred in the cemetery of 
the Jordani on the Via Salaria Nova. This cemetery, owing to 
its state of ruin and the difficulty of pursuing the excavating 
work, has only been very partially explored ; but Marucchi 
believes he has found a broken inscription referring to " Alex 
ander, one of the seven brothers." It is probable that other 
traces of the loculi of these three will come to light when this 
large but comparatively little known catacomb, which is in a 
very ruinous and desolate condition, is carefully examined : 
at present large portions of it are quite inaccessible. 

The second Salzburg Itinerary " De locis SS. Martyrum " 
specially guides the pilgrim to tombs of these three thus : 
" propeque ibi " (alluding to the Basilica of S. Chrysanthus 
and Daria built over a portion of the Ccemeterium Jordani) 
" S. Alexander et S. Vitalis, sanctusque Martialis qui sunt tres 
de septem filiis Felicitatis . . . jacent." William of Malmes 
bury in his transcript of an ancient Itinerary also mentions 
them, as do other of the Pilgrim Guides. 

In the celebrated " Monza " Catalogue and in the 
" Pittacia," or small labels, belonging to the phials which 
contained a little of the sacred oils which were burnt before 
the tombs of the more eminent confessors and martyrs (the 
phials of oils which were sent by Pope Gregory the Great 


(A.D. 590-604) to Theodelinda the Lombard Queen), the 
names of Felicitas and six of her martyred sons occur. 

In the " Pittacia " or labels they are grouped topographic 
ally together, as we have given them above, Felicitas being 
in a separate label, Januarius also in a separate label, then the 
two groups together as above, the " two " and the " three." 
There is a reason for S. Silanus, who was buried with his 
mother in the cemetery named after her, being absent from 
this " Monza " Catalogue, and from the labels on the phials 
of oil. His body, as the " Liberian " Catalogue informs us, 
was missing for a season from its original loculus, it having 
been stolen away, but was subsequently recovered and 

The suspicion of the legendary character of the story of th-3 
martyrdom of S. Felicitas and her seven sons is largely traceabl 3 
to the conclusions of some critical scholars (by no means of all) 
that the " Acts of S. Felicitas " and her sons are not authentic, 
that is, that they are not a contemporary piece, but were 
compiled at a somewhat later and uncertain date. It is, how 
ever, by the most trustworthy of these critics conceded that 
they are very ancient. 

But granting these conclusions are accurate and that the 
" Acts," in the strict sense of the word, are not authentic, the 
circumstances of the Passion and the martyrdom of the mother 
and her heroic sons rest on other authorities outside and quite 
independent of the " Acts "authorities of the highest value 
and absolutely unquestioned. 

Of these the testimony of the catacomb tombs of the mother 
and her seven sons, a somewhat novel witness, is the one we 
have especially brought forward here. 

It is an evidence unchangeable, and which admits of no 
subsequent revision or addition. In its special department 
it is perhaps the strongest piece of testimony that can be 
brought forward, and much of this strange unexpected witness 
was unknown until quite lately until these forgotten ceme 
teries were partially explored by competent and indefatigable 
scholars of our own day and time. 

There are, besides, other important "pieces," which for 
want of space have not been quoted here, bearing on the same 


subject, namely, on the historical existence of S. Felicitas and 
her seven sons, and their brave witness and consequent 
martyrdom in the days of the Emperor Marcus Antonius, 
such as, inscriptions of Pope Damasus, a homily in honour 
of S. Felicitas by Pope Gregory the Great, and a laudatory 
notice by S. Peter Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna, A.D. 
433-54, etc. 



IN this section we will give at some length what these 
(same) catacombs tell us of the thoughts of the early 
Christian congregations on some of the more important 
problems dealing with death and with the life beyond the 
grave, and incidentally with the early Christian view on the 
question of the communion of saints. 

The scanty remains of the literature of this early period, 
as we have already hinted, valuable though they are, partake 
rather of the nature of scholars researches and conclusions. 
What we find painted and graved on the million graves of 
this vast subterranean God s Acre tells us in simple popular 
language exactly what the Christian folk, who lived and 
worked and suffered in the two centuries which followed the- 
martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, thought and felt on these 
momentous points. 

The graves in this silent city, perhaps numbering some 
three, four, or even five millions, belong to all ages, to every 
rank and order. There are crypts containing the remains of 
members of the Imperial family, of men and women of sena 
torial and of the most exalted rank among the proud patrician 
houses. There are graves of merchants and traders, of the 
very rich, of the very poor ; there are innumerable graves 
of freedmen, of the vast class too of the sad-eyed slave. 

Here, too, are not a few tombs of men and women who 
gave up all, even dear life, for the Name s sake, and who, 
because they professed unswerving faith in the divine Son of 



God, through pain and agony passed to their rest in the 
Paradise of God. 

Some of the ruined graves were once strikingly adorned ; 
very many of them being made of costly marbles and 
beautifully decorated, while around these sepulchral memorials 
of the great and wealthy are found numberless graves roughly 
though lovingly fashioned. 

Of the epitaphs and inscriptions carved and painted on 
these graves, some are exquisitely worked, evidently by 
professional artists. Many more, however, were rudely and 
hurriedly painted or scratched on the plaster or stone tablet 
which closed in the shelf in the wall in which the dead was 

The inscriptions are for the most part in Latin, but in the 
first and in much of the second century the words are often 
in Greek. In some instances the two languages are curiously 
mingled, the epitaph beginning in one tongue and ending in 
another : occasionally the Latin words are written in Greek 

Various corrupt ways of spelling are not unusual, the 
ordinary rules of grammar are not unfrequently broken. 
Indeed, as is observable in some of the Latin poetry of the 
early Christian centuries where the rules of classical prosody 
are ignored, so here in the prose used by the children of the 
people a similar disregard of language and spelling is ob 
servable. It was the beginning of the popular patois which 
eventually crystallized into modern Italian. 

There is a curious and interesting difference between the 
epitaphs of the catacombs written when Christianity was a 
proscribed religion, when those who embraced it were liable 
to more or less bitter persecution, and the epitaphs of the 
latter years of the fourth as of the following centuries. Men 
wrote in those first three Christian centuries in the dark and 
lonely corridors and chambers where their loved dead were 
laid, not for any human eye to read, save their own when 
they visited that sacred God s Acre, just a name or an 
emblem of their dearest hopes, a little picture of the Good 
Shepherd and His sheep, a word or two of sure hope and 
joyous confidence in the eternal future and nothing more. 


Very short, very simple, very touching are these early Christian 
epitaphs. The great and noble set out no pompous statement 
of the rank and position of their dead : we read little of the 
piety and goodness of the many saintly ones whose remains 
rested in those long silent corridors. 

But in the cemeteries (mostly above ground) of the last 
years of the fourth and in the following centuries, when the 
Church enjoyed peace, and when a different spirit brooded over 
the works and days of Christians, we begin to meet with those 
foolish tasteless phrases which as time went on became more 
and more in fashion, telling of the dead one s rank and position, 
of the goodness and holiness and devotion of the deceased. 

Dean Stanley quotes an epitaph in the cloisters of his 
loved Abbey of Westminster, which he says reminded him 
of the catacomb inscriptions in a way which none other of 
the pompous and elaborate epitaphs in that noble English 
home of the great dead had done. It is of a little girl, and 
runs thus : 

" Jane Lister deare childe." 

The first and most prominent feature in the life of the 
Christians of the first three centuries which the inscriptions 
of the catacombs make clear to us was their intense con 
viction of the reality of the future life. 

The epitaphs speak of the dead as though they w r ere still 
living. They talk to the dead. They felt that there was a 
communion still existing with them between them and the 
survivors a communion carried on under new conditions, 
and finding its consolation in incessant mutual prayer. 

They were assured that the soul of the departed was united 
with the saints that it was with God, and in the enjoyment 
of peace, happiness, rest ; so often the little epitaph breathes 
a humble and loving prayer that they, the survivors, might 
soon be admitted to a participation in these blessings. Some 
times the survivors invoked the help of the prayers of the 
departed, since they knew that the soul of the departed lived 
in God and with God ; they thought that the prayers of a 
soul in the presence of God would be a help must be a help- 
to those whose time of trial was not yet ended. 


Dr. Northcote well summarizes all this : " In a word, 
they realized most intensely that all the faithful, whether in 
the body or out of the body, were still living members of one 
mystical body, the body of Christ ; that they formed one 
great family, knit together in the closest bonds of love ; and 
that this love, stronger than death, had its proper work and 
happiness in prayer prayer of the survivors for those who 
had gone before, prayer of the blessed for those who were 
left behind." (Epitaphs of the Catacombs, chap, v.) 

This deeply rooted belief in the life beyond the grave ; this 
intense conviction that the division between this life and the 
life beyond the grave does not sever the claim of affection and 
love, never interrupt no, not for an hour the interchange 
of loving offices. 

We will quote a very few of the older epitaphs painted 
or graved upon the marble or stone tablet or on the thick 
plaster-work which closed in the shelf in which the dead were 

On some of these tablets we read simply the name of the 
dead ; on others the name is accompanied with a Christian 
emblem, such as an anchor, the mystic fish, the ix&v<; 
each letter of which refers closely to the Saviour : (i) Jesus, 
(%) Christ, (6} God, (v) the Son, (?) the Saviour ; the palm 
branch, the token of the victory over death ; the dove, symbol 
of a Christian soul, occasionally of the Holy Ghost ; this dove 
or bird was a favourite emblem of the soul, the idea being that 
the soul resembled a bird of passage dwelling for a season here 
and then flying away beyond the seas to a brighter, serener 
home. Very often we come upon the figure of the Good 
Shepherd, sometimes with a lamb in His arms. 


De Rossi tells us how he had studied over fifteen thousand 
of these epitaphs, and that every year about five hundred 
more were deciphered. We will copy a very few of these : 

" To dear Cyriacus sweetest son Mayest thou live in 
the Holy Spirit/ 


" Matronata who lived a year and 32 days Pray for 

thy parents/ 5 

" Bolosa may God refresh thee In Christ." 
" Sweet Faustina mayest thou live in God." 
" Peace to thy soul, Oxycholis." 
" Agape, thou shalt live for ever." 
" Filumena thy spirit is in peace." 
" Baccis, sweet soul in the peace of the Lord, a virgin 

Her father to his sweetest daughter." 
" Victorina is in Peace and in Christ." 
" Amerinus to his dearest wife Rufina ; may God refresh 

thy spirit." 
" His parents made this for their good and sweetest son 

Felix . . . May Christ receive thee in peace." 
" Porcella sleeps here in peace." 
" Severa ; mayest thou live in God." 
" Farewell, my dear one, in peace with the Holy souls ; 

Farewell in Christ." 

Never a word of sorrow on these graves of the dead never 
a word of repining never a regret that they have been taken 
away. Only just a few words telling of their sure hope for 
their dear ones, and a prayer to God, Christ, and the Holy 
Spirit to keep them in their loving guardianship. 

We must dwell a little on the question of the testimony 
which these epitaphs of the first age of Christianity bear on 
the practice of the living asking for the help of those who had 
passed within the veil. There is no doubt but that at a later 
period and all through the Middle Ages this was the practice, 
and it has led to results which true theologians generally 
deplore. The question here is How far was this the practice 
of the Church of the first days ? 

Now there is no doubt whatever but that the mediaeval 
Church from very early times taught that the prayers of great 
saints possessed a peculiar efficacy, and in the uneducated 
mind this shaded into something like a belief that these saints 
possessed some actual power of themselves to interfere in and 
to influence human affairs. We shall presently quote some of 
S. Augustine s views here. 


In the case, however, of the early Christians whose thoughts 
are reflected in their great City of the Dead, the case was very 
different. They believed so intensely in the continuance of 
life after death that they maintained their communion with the 
departed by an interchange of prayers. 

S. Cyprian, a great theologian and a cautious teacher, 
believed that the blessed dead were anxious for those whom 
they had left behind. Now, granting that this was the common 
feeling of Christians in respect to their dear dead ones whom 
they believed were dwelling close to God and His Christ, we 
can well conceive how natural it was for them to ask them for 
their prayers for were they not dwelling close to God and His 
Christ to Whom their prayers must be addressed ? Thus in 
the Church of the first two hundred and fifty years this com 
munion, largely made up of the constant interchange of prayer 
between the living and the dead, rested on this family and 
friendship bond, and on no other. The formal invocation 
of saint and martyr as of some specially powerful soul belongs 
to a later date. It was not the teaching, certainly not the 
general teaching, of the Church of the catacombs. 

But even in the catacombs it appears that very soon the 
custom crept in of crowding round the grave of some famous 
martyr, as though some special virtue belonged to the spot 
where the saint s remains had been deposited ; and the little 
chamber where the hallowed remains of a hero or heroine of 
the faith lay, was soon filled with graves graves excavated 
utterly without any regard to the paintings or decorations 
\vhich adorned the chamber and its original tomb, paintings 
and decorations which were ruthlessly cut away to make 
room for new loculi where the dead might rest close to the 
remains of the saint or martyr. 1 

The point, however, which especially concerns us here is 
the testimony, repeated many thousand times, which the 

1 S. Augustine in the first quarter of the fifth century, circa A.D. 421, in 
reply to a question addressed to him by S. Paulinus of Nola, discusses the 
question whether or not is it advantageous to be buried close to the grave 
of a saint ? The little work of Augustine, however, broadens out into points 
connected with the doctrine of " Invocation of Saints." A resume of some of 
S. Augustine s thoughts and arguments will be found in a short Appendix 
to this chapter. 


catacombs bear to the perfect confidence of the early Christians 
in the continuance of life beyond the grave. To the faithful 
dead to the believers in Jesus Christ there was no break 
caused by death, for them life went on as it had done aforetime ; 
conscious life went on after death, only under different and 
happier conditions. 

To appreciate the striking change in the conception of 
death the most important event in the life of man on earth 
it will be interesting to glance at the testimony supplied in 
the same period by pagan epitaphs. A very brief examination 
will suffice to show what an impassable gulf separated the 
Christian from the pagan conception. 

What at once catches our attention in any study of pagan 
epitaphs is the complete want of any hope beyond the grave. 
All the elaborate pagan pictures of the future life popularized 
in Greek circles by the Homeric poems, and in Latin society 
by the exquisite verses of Vergil, when brought face to face 
with the stern reality of the tomb are simply blotted out are 
treated as purely fables. 

Death, in these pagan epitaphs, the true expressions of 
popular pagan belief in the first three centuries of the Christian 
era, is ever viewed as an enemy ; is described as an everlasting 
sleep, and the grave is represented as the last eternal home. 

It has been well said that this melancholy idea was con 
veyed in the quiet sadness of ihat one word " Vale," or in the 
more impassioned repetition of it, " Vale, Vale dulcissima 
semper in perpetuo vale." Farewell, farewell, sweetest one 
for ever farewell. Now and again a favourite pagan formula 
was summed up in two words " fuisti ; vale." 

Some of the pagan epitaphs are playfully sarcastic, as : 
" Ah, weary traveller, however far you may walk, you must 
come here at last." Some even make a mock at death, bidding 
others enjoy themselves while they live. " Live for the 
present hour, drink and play, for you are sure of nothing, 
only what you eat and drink is really yours." " Fortune 
makes many promises but keeps none of them ; live then 
for the present hour, since nothing else is really yours." Some 
epitaphs are bitter : " I lived as I like, but I don t know why 
I died." " Here it is, so it is, nothing else could be." 


Here an inscription on a young woman s grave mourns 
her early death : I lift up my hands against the God who 
took me away at the age of twenty, though I had done no 
harm." A father thus grieves for the loss of his child : " The 
fates judged ill when they robbed me of you." Father and 
mother often write themselves down as most wretched, most 
unhappy ("miserrimi-infelicissimi"). Sometimes they use these 
sad and cheerless terms of their dead children. Mothers now 
and again describe themselves as " left to tears and groans," 
or as " condemned to perpetual darkness and daily sad 
lamentation." Parents lament their dead child thus : " Our 
hope was in our boy ; now all is ashes and mourning." Fre 
quently these mourn for their dead children as follows : 
"They have died without having deserved it." Another 
parent bewails the child s death in these terms : " Neither 
talent, nor amiability, nor loving winning ways, have been of 
any avail to prolong the child s days ; in spite of all this, he 
has become the foul prey of the cruel Pluto." 

On very many indeed of pagan tombs undoubtedly there 
is evidence of much love and deep affection for the departed, 
but there is no gleam of hope of reunion or of happiness in 
another life ; indeed, as a rule, there is no other life hinted 
at. If any venture to look beyond the grave which is 
rarely the case all beyond the grave is dark and sad and 

The following words put into the mouth of a dead girl 
well voice this general feeling : " Here I lie, unhappy girl, 
in darkness." Traveller, curse me not as you pass," moans 
another inscription, " for I am in darkness and cannot answer." 


The wonderful change in popular feeling as shown in the 
Christian epitaphs when contrasted with the pagan epitaphs 
of the same period is indeed startling ! What we read in the 
Roman City of the Dead tells us something of the spirit which 
dwelt in these companies of believers in the Name. This 
something is sufficient to account for the new life led by so 
many, for the superhuman courage displayed by the army of 


martyrs and confessors, for the ultimate victory, some two 
hundred years later, of the religion of Jesus. 

We who live in what is perhaps the evening of the world s 
story we mark the glowing words of the New Testament 
writings, the fervid exhortations and noble resolves of men like 
Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp the saintly teachings 
of great theologians like Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian. 

And as we read, we feel that these writers were evidently 
intensely persuaded of the truth of such sublime and soul- 
stirring assertions ; we know, too, that these writers and 
teachers lived the beautiful life they taught, that they died, 
many of them, with a smile on their lips and a song in 
their hearts. 

But what of the People the common folk, the ordinary 
everyday citizen ; the slave and the little trader of the 
thousand cities of the Empire, the soldier of Rome, and the 
patrician of Rome what did they think of all this ? these 
new strange words, these sunlit hopes, these glorious golden 
promises of the great teachers of Christianity ? 

The catacombs give us the answer. In quite late years, 
slowly, painfully, the antiquary and the scholar have opened 
out the secrets of the long-hidden City of the Dead which 
lies all round immemorial Rome, and, thanks to their labours, 
from words and pictures graven and painted on a million 
graves, comes to us, across the many centuries, the answer 
with no uncertain voice. 

Yes, the People the slave and the trader, the soldier and 
the noble believed the words of the New Testament writings, 
and accepted the teaching of the early Christian teachers, 
and believing, struggled to lead the life the Master loved. 
None for a moment would dare to doubt the mighty power 
of this strange weird testimony of a million tombs ; it is 
indeed a voice from a thousand graves. 

Then, too, what may be termed the terminology, that is 
the words and expressions used in these vast cemeteries for 
all that is connected with death and burial, teaches the same 
truth that for a believer in the Name, all the gloom and 
dread and horror usually associated with death are absent in 
these short epitaphs. 


The catacomb inscriptions and pictures, besides their 
overwhelming testimony to the belief of the early Christians 
in the continuance of life after death, in the immortality of 
the soul, a testimony expressed in a countless number of ways, 
bear their witness to some of the more important dogmas of 
the Christian faith. 

The extreme brevity of the inscriptions and the necessarily 
small space allotted to the pictures and emblems graven and 
painted on the sepulchral slabs, for the most part very small, 
of course preclude anything like any complete enunciation 
even of the principal Articles of the Christian faith : still 
what we find on these slabs tells us with no uncertain 
voice in whom these early congregations believed, and to 
whom these fervent prayers were addressed. Each of the 
Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity are named in many of 
these epitaphs. 

We find many instances of the formula of the ancient 
creeds, " In God and in Christ." This distinct enumera 
tion of the two first Persons of the Blessed Trinity bears 
witness to the Catholic faith of the composers of the 

Nor is the Third Person of the Trinity absent from these 
epitaphs. We read on some for instance : " In the Holy Spirit 
of God " ; " Mayest thou live in the Holy Spirit." Even the 
mention of all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity has been 
found engraved on these sepulchral tablets. 

What, however, is most striking in these early records of 
the belief of the Christian congregation is the testimony they 
bear a testimony repeated an innumerable number of times 
to the primitive belief in the supreme Divinity of Jesus Christ. 
We find again and again such formulas as " In the name of 
Christ"; "In God the Lord Christ"; "In God Christ"; 
"The great God Christ" ("Deo Magno Christo"). In the 
earliest epitaphs the most common symbol is the fish, painted, 
carved, or written at the beginning or end of the epitaph, 
not as part of the sentence, but as a complete formula in 
itself. Now this was a declaration of faith in " Jesus Christ, 
Son of God, Saviour " ; the letters which form the Greek word 


Ichthus, as we have explained, being the initials 1 of the words 
of this formula. 

There is no doubt that from the earliest times the fish 
was an acknowledged symbol of our Lord. It became 
at once a sacred " tessera " or sign quite unintelligible 
to the pagan and official world, but to the believer a 
most precious symbol, containing with striking brevity and 
yet with striking clearness, a complete precis, so to speak, 
of the creed, a profession of facts as far as related to the 

The catacombs are full of Christ. It was to Him that the 
Christians of the age of persecution ever turned : it was on 
Him they rested in gladness and in sorrow ; in sickness and 
in health ; in the days of danger and these were sadly numer 
ous in the first two centuries and a half and in the hour of 
death. It was from His words they drew their strength. In 
the consciousness of His ever-presence in their midst, they 
suffered gladly for His sake. With His name on their lips 
they died fearlessly, joyfully passing into the Valley of the 
veiled Shadow. On the tablet of marble or plaster which 
closed up the narrow shelf in the catacomb corridor where 
their poor remains were reverently, lovingly laid, the dear 
name of Jesus was often painted or carved. 

The catacombs are full of Christ. We have spoken several 
times of the paintings on the walls and ceilings of the corridors 
and chambers. There is great variety of these, the Old and 
New Testament supplying the majority of subjects. But by 
far the favourite subject of representation certainly the 
leading type of Christian art in the first days was the figure 
of the " Good Shepherd." It does not only appear in the City 

1 The initial letters of the Redeemer s names and principal titles (in Greek) 
made up the word ixQvs or fish. Thus : 

IHCOTC = Jesus. 
XPICTOC = Christ. 
6EOT = of God. 
YIOC = Son. 
C12THP = Saviour. 


of the Dead. It was often graved upon chalices used in the 
holy Eucharist. It was traced in gold upon glass, it was 
moulded upon lamps, it was carved upon rings. But it is 
to the catacombs that we must go to find it in its most 
varied and pathetic forms now painted in fresco upon 
the walls of the corridors and chambers where the dead 
lie so thickly ; now roughly, now more carefully carved 
on countless tablets ; now sculptured upon the more costly 

Sometimes the Shepherd is represented with one sheep, 
at times with several ; some listening to His voice some 
turning listlessly away. We come upon it in a thousand 
places on the tombs themselves in the little chapels or oratories 
leading out of the corridors where the more distinguished 
among the dead sleep. It is the favourite symbol of the 
Christian life and faith. 

This constantly recurring figure of the Good Shepherd with 
His sheep in the catacombs throws much light on this deeply 
interesting and at the same time important question What 
were the thoughts of that early Church in Rome respecting 
Christ and His teaching ? 

We must remember they lived very near the times when 
the greatest figure in history lived on earth, and talked with 
men. We shall do well to bear in mind that the first genera 
tion of these Roman Christians were taught by Peter and 
by Paul, and that through most of the second century men 
lived whose fathers must have seen and listened to these 
great servants of the Divine Master, certainly to their 
immediate disciples. 

The form in which they loved best to think of this Almighty 
Saviour was as " the great Shepherd of the sheep " the 
Shepherd of the First Epistle of S. Peter the Shepherd of S. 
Luke and of S. John. 1 

A great and eloquent writer 2 in one of his most suggestive 
works does not hesitate to speak of what he terms the popular 
religion of the first Christians as the religion of " the Good 

1 See especially Heb. xiii. 20 ; i Pet. ii. 2$-v. 4 ; S. Luke, xv. 4, 7, and 
above all S. John x. n, 16. 

2 Dean Stanley of Westminster, Christian Institutions, chaps, xiii., xiv. 


Shepherd/ He says they looked on that figure and it conveyed 
to them all they wanted. And then he adds sorrowfully 
that " as ages passed on the image of the Good Shepherd 
faded away from the mind of the Christian world, and other 
emblems of the Christian faith took the place of the once 
dearly loved figure." 

" Instead of the good and gracious Pastor, there came 
the omnipotent Judge, or the Crucified Sufferer, or the 
Infant in His mother s arms, or the Master in His parting 

All these later presentments of the Divine Saviour em 
phatically are beautiful and true, but they are not what the 
first Christians especially dwelt on. These loved to think 
of Him first and chiefest as " the Good Shepherd who gave 
His life for the sheep." 

Among the many pictured figures of the " Good Shepherd " 
in the catacomb sepulchral galleries, the Shepherd is occasion 
ally represented with a kid or a goat in place of a 
sheep in His loving arms : " And other sheep I have which 
are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and there shall 
be one fold, one shepherd." The catacomb theology, as 
expounded by the catacomb teachers, went beyond even 
these gracious words, when it represented the creature 
on the shoulders of the Master, as not a lamb but a 
kid not a sheep but a goat. These Christians of the first 
day were persuaded that their Master s mission on earth 
was " not to repel but to include, not to condemn but to 
save ; they believed in His tender compassion and boundless 
charity." x 

This sweet and loving view provoked the indignant remon 
strance of the stern Tertullian (circa A.D. 200). On this harsh 

1 Dean Stanley (Christian Institutions] calls attention to the curious fact 
that the popular religion of the first two centuries, as shown in the catacomb 
witnesses, ran, in some particulars, in different channels from the contemporary 
writers whose reliquiae have been preserved, and also from the paintings 
and writers of a later period ; for instance, the " Good Shepherd " is very little 
alluded to even by the writers of the second and third and fourth centuries ; 
e.g. Irenaeus and Justin, Athanasius and Cyprian. If we come down much 
later, scarcely any notices of the " Shepherd " occur in the Summa of Thomas 
Aquinas ; none in the Tridentine Catechism ; none in the Anglican Thirty- 
nine Articles ; none in the Westminster Confession. 


protest of the great African Father Tertullian, Matthew Arnold 
founds one of his most touching poems : 

"He saves the sheep the goats He doth not save: 
So spake the fierce Tertullian. 

But she sighed: 

The infant Church, of love she felt the tide 
Stream on her from her Lord s yet recent grave, 
And then she smil d, and in the Catacombs, 
With eye suffused, but heart inspired true, 
She her Good Shepherd s hasty image drew, 
And on His shoulder not a lamb but kid." 


THE wish to be buried in the immediate vicinity of a saint 
or confessor, though perhaps especially marked in the subter 
ranean cemeteries of Rome, was not peculiar to the Christians 
of the very early centuries. Many other instances could be 
quoted, from the days of the old prophet of Bethel who wished 
his bones to lie beside the bones of the man of God who came 
out of Judah (i Kings xiii. 31) down to King John, who is said 
to have requested that he might be interred at Worcester 
directed between the bodies of SS. Oswald and Wulfstan. 

S. Augustine s De curd pro mortuis gcrendd is a peculi 
arly interesting treatise. The great bishop discusses at some 
length this question, and his words throw considerable side 
light upon the growing practice of the invocation of saints. 

The treatise, written about A. 0.421, was a reply to a question 
addressed to him by S. Paulinus of Nola, a very saintly and 
devoted man, but at the same time, in common with not a 
few holy men of his time, superstitious and often sadly mistaken 
in his exaggerated devotion to the noble army of martyrs who 
had played so well the part of pioneers in the recent days of 
bitter persecution. 

S. Paulinus had been asked by a certain widow to allow 
her son to be buried in the church of the martyr S. Felix at 
Nola. He said he had granted her prayer, believing that 
this longing desire of faithful souls that their dear ones should 
be laid close to the remains of a saint was based not merely 
on an illusion but on some real need of the soul. But S. 
Paulinus evidently was uncertain here, so he asks the great 
teacher Augustine Did it really help one who was dead to 
be buried near a saint ? 

S.Augustine s reply on the whole was cautious : he remarked 
that if a man had lived righteously, to be buried close to a saint 

21 321 " 


could not possibly be of any use to his soul ; again, if his life 
had been evil, it would be equally useless. 

Everything connected with the burial of the dead, Augustine 
concluded, has really more connexion with the survivors than 
with the dead. He explains this connexion thus : " When 
we think of the spot where our dear one lies, and that spot is 
in the immediate neighbourhood of the grave of a saint, we 
think at once of the saint in question, and we ask for his 
or her prayers for our dear dead one." But if such prayers be 
not asked for, Augustine sees no advantage in such a neigh 
bourhood. (Adjuvat defunct i spiritum, non mortui corporis 
locus, sed ex loci memoria vivus affectus.) 

The famous North African theologian then proceeds to 
discuss the question : " How do martyrs help men ? " He says : 
that they do help them is certain; then, are these saints, through 
the virtue of the power they possess, present in many places, 
or are they always dwelling in the home allotted to them far 
away from mortal dwellings, but at the same time praying 
for those who ask for their intercession ? And he adds that, 
God hearing their prayers, through the ministry of angels, 
grants at His good pleasure to those who have sought the 
prayers of the saints, the consolations these saints ask for 

This seems to be the substance of S. Augustine s reply to S. 
Paulinus of Nola, but he carefully guards his words by adding : 
" All this," namely, the extent of the power of saints who are 
dead, " is too lofty a question for me to answer positively. 
It is too obscure." 

I should like to ask the question of those who really 
know, for possibly there is some one who possesses this know 
ledge," curiously added the great thinker and loving theo 




AMONG all the various evidential arguments adduced in 
support of the truth of Christianity, many of them of 
a most weighty character and capable of an almost 
indefinite expansion, the history of the Jewish people, their 
wonderful past and their present condition, their numbers, 
their books, their ever-growing influence in the world of the 
twentieth century, must be considered as the most striking 
and remarkable. 

The Christianity of the first century was surely no new 
religion ; it was closely knit to, bound up with, the great 
Hebrew tradition. The sacred Hebrew tradition was the 
first chapter the preface, so to speak of the Christian 

The early or pre-Christian details of the Jewish story are 
well known and generally accepted. The Old Testament 
account of the Jewish race historically is rarely disputed. 

Less known and comparatively little regarded is the sub 
sequent history of the Chosen People ; over the records of their 
fate, after the final and complete separation of Judaism and 
Christianity, an almost impenetrable mist settled, and the 
story of the fortunes of the remnant of the Jews who survived 
the terrible exterminating wars of Titus and Hadrian has been 
generally neglected by the historians of the great Empire. 

Very few have even cared to ask what happened to that 
poor remnant of vanquished Jews : all that is commonly 
known is that a certain number survived the great catas 
trophes, and that their scattered descendants, in different lands, 
appear and reappear all through the Middle Ages a wandering 
and despised folk, generally hated and hating. 

But these are still with us, and among us ; that they 
occupy in our day and time a peculiar, a unique position of 



power and influence which they have gradually acquired 
in all grades of modern society in many lands is now 
universally recognized. 

This subsequent history of the fortunes of the Jewish people 
from the dates of their final separation from the Christian 
community, and the great catastrophes of the years of grace 
A.D. 70 and A.D. 135, constitutes a piece of supreme importance 
in the evidential history of the religion of Jesus ; and yet, 
strange to say, it is, comparatively speaking, unknown and 

It will be seen, as the pages of this wonderful story are 
turned over, how the guiding hand of the Lord, though in a 
different way, just as in the far-back days of the desert wander 
ings, has been ever visible in all the strange sad fortunes of 
the people, once the beloved of God. 

The Jews of the twentieth century, numbering perhaps 
some ten or eleven millions, although scattered over many 
lands, constitute a distinct race, a separate people or nation. 
While during the Christian centuries all other races peoples 
nations without a single exception have become extinct, 
or have become fused and merged with other and newer races 
and peoples, they, the Jews, have alone preserved their 
ancient nationality, their descent, their peculiar features, 
their individuality, their cherished traditions absolutely 

It does not seem ever to have been remarked that the 
rise and influence of the great Rabbinic schools of Palestine 
and Babylonia, at Tiberias and Jamnia, at Sura and Pum- 
beditha schools devoted to the study of the Torah (the 
Law) and the other books of the Old Testament, were co 
incident with the rise and influence of the Gnostic schools, 
schools in which the Old Testament was generally reviled 
and discredited. Is it too much to assume that echoes from 
the great Rabbinic teaching centres reached and sensibly 
influenced the Christian masters in their life and death contest 
with Gnosticism, a contest in which the Old Testament, its 
divine origin and its authority, was ever one of the principal 
questions at stake ? 


Nor is it an altogether baseless conception which sees that 
the reverence and love of at least a large proportion of earnest 
Christian folk for the Old Testament books, a reverence and 
a love that for more than eighteen hundred years has under 
gone no diminution or change, are in large measure due to the 
reverential handling, to the patient tireless studies of the 
great Rabbinical schools of the early Christian centuries 
to the passionate, possibly exaggerated, love of the Jew for 
his precious book. 

Though men guess it not, surely echoes from those strange 
Jewish schools of Tiberias and Sura, whose story we are about 
to relate, have reached the hearts of unnumbered Christians 
to whom the Jewish schools in question and their restless toil, 
all centring in the Holy Books in question, are but the shadow 
of a name ? 



IN the wonderful Jewish epic so closely united to the 
Christian story which stretches already over several 
thousand years, the history of the three last awful 
wars which led to their extinction as a nation, though not as 
a people, is merely a terrible episode in the many-coloured 
records of the wonderful race. 

But these wars are specially important, for they were 
the earthly cause of the great change which passed over the 
fortunes of the Jews. Since the last of the three wars they 
have ceased to be a separate nation, and have become a 
wandering tribe scattered over the earth ; but though 
wanderers, they are now more numerous, more influential 
in the world, than they had ever been even in the days of 
their greatest grandeur and magnificence. 

The curious religious mania which seems to have 
possessed them, and which led them to revolt against the 
far-reaching power of the Roman Empire, is in some re 
spects a mystery. We can only very briefly recount here 
the state of parties in Jerusalem, the centre of the nation, 
for a few years before the revolt which led to the first great 

In the year B.C. 63 the Roman commander Pompey 
established the Roman rule over Judaea ; from B.C. 6 the 
Jewish province, still preserving a partial independence, was 
governed by procurators sent from Rome, and by a native 
Herodian dynasty. The Palestinian Jews were roughly 
made up in this period of three parties : 

(1) The Sadducees and Herodians, who occupied most of 
the high offices and the priesthood. 

(2) The Pharisees. Strict Jews, loving with a devoted 



love the Torah or Mosaic Law ; on the whole not favourable 
to the Roman and Herodian rule, but generally quiet and 
peace-loving. These included dreamers men quietly longing 
for the promised Messiah, Essenes, and later, towards the 
end of the period we are speaking of, Christian Jews. 

(3) Zealots including adventurers, the Sicarii (or 
assassins), a wild turbulent clique (or sect), and a confused 
medley of disorderly folk, making up a formidable party of 
enthusiasts, expecting the early advent of a Messiah who 
should restore the past glories of the Jewish race ; these; 
were usually fierce revolutionaries, intensely dissatisfied with 
the state of things then prevailing ; hating Rome and the 
Herodian dynasty favoured by Rome with a fierce 

These Zealots had a very large, though disorderly, following 
among the people. 

In A.D. 66 the revolt broke out in the Holy City. Florus, 
the Roman Procurator (or Governor), whose conduct during 
the early stages of the great revolt is inexplicable, left the 
city, leaving behind him only a small garrison ; the revolt 
spread not only in Palestine and in parts of the neighbouring 
province of Syria, but far beyond notably in the great city 
of Alexandria, where a large Jewish colony dwelt. Scenes 
of terrible violence were common, and fearful massacres are 
recorded to have taken place in various centres of population 
where Jews were numerous ; the revolt became serious, and 
the Imperial Legate of Syria, Cestius Gallus, took the field 
against the insurgents. He seems to have been a thoroughly 
incompetent commander, and failed completely in his efforts 
to regain possession of Jerusalem, the headquarters of the 
revolutionary party. Gallus retreated, suffering great loss. 
The failure of Gallus inflicted a heavy blow upon Roman 

To put an end to the serious and widespread revolt, in 
the year of grace 67 Vespasian, one of the ablest and most 
distinguished of the Roman generals, was appointed to the 
supreme command in Syria. 

Gradually, as the result of a terrible campaign, Vespasian 
restored quiet in Palestine and the neighbouring region, and 








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laid siege to the Holy City, where the Zealots had established 
what can only be termed a reign of terror. 

In the following year, A.D. 68, the violent death of the 
Emperor Nero, and the state of confusion that followed his 
death throughout the Empire, determined Vespasian to pause 
in his operations, and for a short period Jerusalem was left 
in the hands of the Zealots. The brief reigns of the Emperors 
Galba, Otho, and Vitellius were followed by the sudden election 
of Vespasian to the Empire in the year 69, the electors being 
for the most part his own devoted and disciplined legions in 

Vespasian soon after his election returned to Rome, and the 
Empire, now under his strong rule, was once more united and 
quiet. He left behind him in Palestine as supreme commander 
his eldest son Titus, a general of great power and ability. 

The siege of the revolted Jerusalem was once more pressed 
on ; an iron circle now encircled the doomed city, which, in 
addition to its wonderful memories of an historic past, was 
one of the strong fortresses of the world. 

The history of the siege and the eventual fall and ruin of the 
famous Jewish capital, with all its nameless horrors, has been 
often told and retold ; but the sad episode of the burning of 
the Temple, with all its eventful consequences, must be briefly 
touched on. 

Why was this world-famous sanctuary then standing in 
all its marvellous beauty, with its matchless treasures, some 
of them environed with an aureole of sanctity simply unequalled 
in the story of the nations in the sphere of Roman influence 
ruthlessly destroyed, and its wondrous treasures swept out ? 
This was not the usual policy of far-seeing Rome. 

According to Josephus, the burning of the Temple was the 
result of accident, and was not owing to any premeditated 
plan or order issuing from the Roman commander-in-chief. 

Modern scholars, 1 however, believe that a passage from 
the lost Histories of Tacitus has been discovered which describes 
how a council of war was held by Titus after the capture of 

1 Mommsen, Renan, and Ramsay without hesitation ascribe the statement 
quoted here as taken by Sulpicius Severus (fourth century) from the lost 
portion of the Histories of Tacitus. 


Jerusalem in which it was decided that the Temple ought to- 
be destroyed, in order that the religion of the Jews and of the 
Christians might be more completely stamped out. 

In the Talmud 1 the burning of the Temple is ascribed 
to the " impious Titus." 

The cruelties which are associated with the storming of 
Jerusalem the loss of life and the subsequent fate of the 
prisoners captured by the victorious army of Titus make 
up a tale of horror which perhaps is unequalled in the world s 
history ; there is, however, no doubt that the awful scenes 
of carnage and the fate of the defenders who survived the fall 
of the city were in large measure owing to the obstinate defenc e 
and irreconcilable hatred of the party of Jewish Zealots who 
provoked the war and for so long a time had been masteis 
in the hapless city. 

The result of the siege by Titus may be briefly summed 
up as follows. The Temple and the City of Jerusalem were 
absolutely razed to the ground, and may be said to have 
completely disappeared ; only the mighty foundations of the 
magnificent Temple remained. These still are with us, and 
after nearly two thousand years bear their silent witness tc 
the vastncss and extent of the third Temple. It is no ex 
aggeration which describes it as one of the most magnificent 
buildings of the Old World. 

For some fifty-two years that is, from A.D. 70 to A.D. 122 
a vast heap of shapeless ruins was all that remained of the 
historic City of the Jews and its splendid Temple. In one 
corner of the ruins during this period of utter desolation the 
Tenth Legion (Fretensis) kept watch and ward over the pathetic 
scene of ruin. 

In the year of grace 122, under the orders of the Emperor 
Hadrian, a new pagan city, known as /Elia Capitolina, slowly 
began to arise on the ancient site. This new city will be 
briefly described in due course. 

The year following the awful catastrophe which befel the 
Jewish nation witnessed one of the most remarkable of the long 
series of " triumphs " which usually marked the close of the 
successful Roman wars. 

1 Talmud (Bab.), treatise "Gittin," $6A. 

>/ -. 


In A.D. 71, Titus, with his father Vespasian and brother 
Domitian, with extraordinary pomp and a carefully arranged 
pictorial display, entered Rome. This triumph was adorned 
with a long train of captive Jews, some of whom were 
publicly put to death as part of the great show. Among the 
more precious spoils of the fallen city were conspicuously 
displayed some of the celebrated objects rescued by the victors 
out of the burning Temple, such as the famous seven-branched 
sacred candlestick ; the golden table of shewbread ; the 
purple veil which hung before the Holy of Holies ; and the 
precious Temple copy of the Torah the sacred Law of 

The story of the great triumph is still with us, graved upon 
the marble of the slowly crumbling Arch of Titus, the traveller 
may still gaze upon the figure of the great general, crowned 
by Victory, in his triumphal car driven by the goddess Rome, 
and upon the same imperial figure borne to heaven 1 by an 
eagle. Still the carved representation of the sacred candle 
stick of the seven branches, and the golden table, are beheld 
by the Christian with mute awe ; by the Jew with a mourning 
that refuses to be comforted. But the sacred things 2 themselves 
over which brood such ineffable memories are gone. 

The fall of Jerusalem, the utter destruction of the Holy 
City, the burning of the Temple, really sealed the fate of 
the Jews as a separate nation. The centre of the chosen 
race existed no longer. The sacred rites, the daily sacri 
fice, and the offering ceased for ever. The great change in 
Judaism we are going to dwell upon must be dated from 
the year 70. But more terrible events had yet to happen 
before the Jew acknowledged his utter defeat, and recognized 
that a great change had passed over him and had finally 

1 The arch was completed by Domitian after the death of Titus. 

3 The golden relics were deposited in the Temple of Peace, which Vespasian 
built opposite the Palatine ; it was dedicated A.D. 75. The temple in question 
was destroyed completely by fire in the reign of Commodus. The temple 
copy of the Torah was taken to the imperial palace. The Emperor Severus, 
who built a synagogue for the Roman Jews, handed over this precious MS. to 
the Jewish community in Rome. The MS. has disappeared, but a list of 
some of the readings of this venerable codex has been preserved in the Massorah, t _ - 
and is still available for use. 


altered the scene of his cherished hopes and glorious 

Two more bloody wars had to be fought out before the 
Jew settled down to his new life the life to be lived by the 
Chosen People for a long series of centuries, the life he is 
living still, though more than 1800 years have come and gone 
since Titus brought the sacred Temple treasures from the 
ruined city to grace the proud Roman triumph. 

Under Trajan in A.D. 116-7, and again under Hadrian 
in A.D. 133-4, tne Zealot party of the defeated but still untamed 
people again rose up in arms against the mighty Empire in 
the heart of which they dwelt. 

We will rapidly sketch these last disastrous revolts. The 
spirit of unrest and of hatred of the Roman power the wild 
Messianic hopes which had inspired the party of Zealots in 
Jerusalem in the first war which had ended so disastrously 
still lived in the great Jewish centres of population outside 
the Holy Land, in countries where the desolation which suc 
ceeded the events in 70 had not been acutely felt. 

The Palestinian Jews for a time were apparently hopelessly 
crushed, but the Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria were still 
a powerful and dangerous group. It is impossible now to 
indicate the precise causes of the formidable rising of A.D. 
116-7. The absence of Trajan and his great army in the more 
distant regions of Asia, and the news that the Roman arms 
had met with a serious check in that distant and dangerous 
campaign, seem to have given the signal for an almost simul 
taneous Jewish uprising in the Cyrene province, in the city 
of Alexandria, and in Cyprus. 

We do not possess any very exact details here. The revolt 
was generally characterized by horrible cruelties on the part 
of the Jewish insurgents, and we read of fearful massacres 
perpetrated by the revolted Jews. The insurrect on spread 
with alarming rapidity, and became a grave danger to the 
Empire. At first we only hear of several successes and victories. 
In the cities of Alexandria and Cyrene a reign of terror prevailed; 
but, as was ever the case when Rome in good earnest put forth 
her disciplined forces, the insurgents found themselves out 
numbered and out-generalled. Two of the most distinguished 


of the imperial commanders, Marcius Turbo and Lucius Quietus, 
conducted the military operations. The war for the Jewish 
revolt of A.D. 116-7 assumed the proportions of a grave 
war lasted well-nigh two years ; but the insurgents were in 
the end completely routed. 

The numbers of slain in this wild and undisciplined outburst 
of Jewish fury, according to the records of the historians of 
the war, are so great that we are tempted to suspect them 
exaggerated. In Cyrene and the neighbouring districts the 
number who perished is given as twenty-two thousand ; 
the loss of life in Alexandria, Egypt, and Cyprus seems to have 
been equally terrible. But even granted that the numbers of 
Jews who perished in this fanatical rebellion have been, from 
one cause or other, exaggerated, it is certain that the numbers 
of the slain were enormous, that the power and influence of 
the Chosen People suffered a terrible check as the result of 
this rising, and that in the great cities of Cyrene and Alexandria 
the Jewish population of these centres large and flourishing 
communities, possessing great wealth and influence, distin 
guished for their high culture and learning were almost 
annihilated. The results of the insane revolts of A.D. 116-7 
were indeed disastrous to the fortunes of this extraordinary 
and wonderful people. 

But the end was not yet. Another bloody war, with all 
its fearful consequences, had to be waged between the Jew 
and the Empire before the Chosen People finally resigned 
itself to the new life it was destined to live through the long 
centuries which followed. The old spirit of restlessness, of 
wild visionary hopes of some great one who should arise in 
their midst, still lived among the more ardent and fervid 
members of the now scattered and diminished people. 

The exciting causes of the last great revolt have been vari 
ously stated. It is probable that the conduct of Hadrian in 
his latter years had become less tolerant, while a persecuting 
spirit more or less prevailed in his government. Among other 
irritating measures devised by Rome, the ancient rite of cir 
cumcision apparently was forbidden. But the immediate 
cause of the Jewish uprising no doubt was the steady progress 


made in the building of the new city, JElia. Capitolina, on the 
site of Jerusalem and the Temple. 

That a pagan city, with its theatres, its baths, its statues, 
should replace the old home of David and Solomon ; that a 
Temple of Jupiter should be built on the site of the glorious 
House of the Eternal of Hosts ; that the very stones of old 
Jerusalem and her adored sanctuary should be used for the 
construction of the new city of idols was indeed especially 
hateful to the proud and fanatic Jew. Sacrilege could go no 
further. Rapidly the insurrection which began in Southern 
Judaea spread. Once more the Holy Land, especially in the 
southern districts, became the scene of a fierce religious war ; 
Bethia, a fortress some fifteen miles from Jerusalem, became 
the central place of arms of the fierce insurgents, but the 
revolt spread far beyond the districts of Palestine. 

In one striking particular this third Jewish war differed 
from the first and second revolts. In the earlier uprisings it 
was the hope of the appearance of a conquering Messiah which 
inspired the fanatical insurgents. In the third revolt a false 
Messiah actually presented himself, and gave a new colour 
and spirit to this dangerous insurrection. 

The hero of the war the pseudo-Messiah known as Bar- 
cochab (the son of a Star) is a mysterious person ; his name 
appears to have been a play upon his real appellation, and was 
assumed by him as representing the Star pictured in the 
famous prophecy of Balaam (Num. xxiv. 17) : " I shall see 
him/ said the seer of Israel, " but not now. . . . There shall 
come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." 
Was this pseudo-Messiah simply an impostor, a charlatan, 
or did he really believe in his mission ? The Talmud generally 
execrates his memory, but the principal doctor of that age, 
Rabbi Akiba, at a time when the Doctors of the Law had 
begun to exercise a paramount influence among the Jewish 
people, believed in him with an intense belief, and supported 
him in his Messianic pretensions. 

Many, but by no means all, of the great Rabbis of the day 
seem to have supported this Bar-cochab, and the Talmud 
tells us that not a few of them endured martyrdom at the 
hands of the victorious Roman government. All contem- 


porary history of this war is, however, confused, the Talmud 
notices are especially so ; the details are simply impossible 
to grasp. 

Of the bravery of Bar-cochab there is no doubt ; he perished 
before the end of the war, and some time after Rabbi Akiba, his 
most influential supporter, w r as put to an agonizing death by 
the victors. 

Of Rabbi Akiba s sincerity there are abundant proofs. His 
memory was ever held in the highest honour by his country 
men. He was reputed to be the most learned and eloquent 
of that famous generation of Jewish teachers. The strange 
mistake he made in recognizing the false Messiah Bar-cochab 
is hard to account for. 

As in the case of the two first famous Jewish wars, the 
Roman power seems at first to have underrated this rebellion, 
which, however, soon assumed a most formidable character. 
The general commanding in the Syrian provinces proving 
incapable, the ablest of the imperial generals, Sextus Julius 
Severus, was summoned from his command in distant Britain 
to Judaea. The Roman tactics employed were generally 
similar to those adopted by Trajan s generals in the second 
Jewish war of A.D. 116-7. Severus avoided any so-called 
pitched battle, but advanced gradually, attacking and be 
sieging each of the rebel garrisons, thus gradually wearing 
out the impetuosity and ardour of the fanatical insurgents. 
The war lasted from two to three years. The devastation, 
the result of this war, was evidently very awful, and the 
numbers of the slain seem to have been enormous. We read 
of 50 armed places being stormed, 985 villages and towns 
being destroyed ; 580,000 men were said to have been slain, 
besides many who perished through hunger and disease : 
the numbers of slain in another account are, however, only 
given as amounting to 180,000. One cannot help coming 
to the conclusion that all these numbers are considerably 
exaggerated. Judaea, however, there is no doubt, especially 
in the southern districts, became literally a desert ; wolves 
and hyenas are stated to have roamed at pleasure over the 
ravaged country ; the south of Palestine became a vast 
charnel-house, and the present barren appearance of the 




country indicates that some terrible catastrophe has at some 
distant period passed over the land. 1 

The sternest measures effectually to stamp out all traces 
of revolt on the part of the Jewish nation were adopted by 
the Roman government after the close of the campaign. 
Numbers of the fugitives were ruthlessly put to death. Many 
were sold into slavery. No Jew was ever allowed to approach 
the ruins of the Holy City. Once in the year, on " the day 
of weeping," such of the hapless race who chose were suffered 
to come and mourn for a brief hour over the shapeless pile 
of stones which once had been a portion of their sacred 

For a time a bitter persecution throughout the Empire 
punished this last formidable uprising ; but these rigorous 
measures were very soon relaxed when all fear of another 
outbreak had passed away, and the Jews, or what remained 
of the people, were suffered to live as they pleased, to worship 
after their own fashion, and to pursue the study of their loved 
Law unmolested. 

M. de Champagny (Lcs Antonins, livre iii. chap, iii.) 
estimates the number of Jews who perished in the three great 
wars of A.D. 70, of A.D. 116-7, and of A.D. 132-3-4 roughly 
as follows : Under Titus, about two millions ; under Trajan, 
about two hundred thousand ; under Hadrian, about one 
million. 2 

The third war was termed in the Babylonian Talmud 
" the War of Extermination." 


We have described the three fatal wars at some length, 
because the wonderful history of the Jewish race entered upon 

1 The authorities for the details of this terrible and protracted war are 
Dion Cassius and the notices in the Talmud, especially in the treatise " Gittin." 

-But these numbers, as we have stated, although derived from contem 
porary authorities, are evidently very much exaggerated. 


an entirely new phase after the disastrous termination of the 
third of these terrible revolts. From the year of our Lord 
1345 they ceased to be a nation and became wanderers over 
the earth. 

Yet in numbers and influence they can scarcely be said 
to have diminished. They amalgamated with no nation ; 
they remained a marked and separate people, and so they 
continue to this day, though well-nigh eighteen long and 
troubled centuries have passed since the great ruin. 

To what earthly cause is this marvellous preservation 
of the Jews to be attributed ? Unhesitatingly we reply, 
Not to the rise of Rabbinism, it had long existed among 
the Chosen People, but to the development and consolidation 
of Rabbinism and to the famous outcome of Rabbinism, the 

The traditional history of Rabbinism and the beginning 
of the marvellous Rabbinic book, the Talmud, is given in the 
Mishnah treatise " Pirke Aboth " (Sayings of the Fathers). 
It is as follows : 

Moses received the written Law (the Torah) on Mount 
Sinai. He also received from the Eternal a further Law, 
illustrative of the written Law. This second Law was known 
as the " Law upon the lip." This was never committed to 
writing, but was handed down from generation to generation. 
Moses committed this oral Law to Joshua ; Joshua com 
mitted it to the Elders ; the Elders committed it to the Pro 
phets ; the Prophets handed on the sacred tradition of " the 
Words of the Eternal " to the Men of the Great Synagogue. 
These last are regarded as the fathers of " Rabbinism." 
Maimonides tells us that these fathers of " Rabbinism " 
succeeded each other (to the number of 120), commencing 
with the prophet Haggai, B.C. 520, who in the Talmud is 
described as the Expounder of the oral Law. The last member 
of the " Great Synagogue " was Simon the Just, circa B.C. 301. 

After Simon the Just a succession of eminent teachers 
known as the " Couples " handed down the sacred traditions 
of the " Law upon the lip " to the time of Hillel and Shammai, 
when we approach to the Christian era. Hillel, according 
to the Talmudic tradition, is said to have lived 100 years 


before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and thus to have 
been a contemporary of Herod the Great. 

Very little really is known of the " Men of the Great Syna 
gogue," or of the ten "Couples" who succeeded them; 
little more than their names has been preserved. It is scarcely 
probable that in each generation only a pair of specially dis 
tinguished scholars should have lived. Most likely just 
ten names were known, and they were formed into five pairs 
or couples of contemporaries, after the fashion of the last 
and most famous pair, Hillel and Shammai. But from the 
times of Hillel and Shammai we have abundant historical 
testimony as to the existence and labours of the Rabbinic 
schools. Well-nigh all that we have related in the above 
passage is purely traditionary. There is no doubt a basis 
of truth in the account we have given, but the contem 
porary history is too scanty for us to describe this relation 
in the treatise " Pirke Aboth," which thus connects the Mish- 
nah compilation in a direct chain with Moses, as anything 
more than a widely circulated legendary and traditional 

We can, however, certainly assert that the foundations 
of the teaching of the school of Rabbinism which, after the 
great ruin of the year of Grace 70, began to exercise a 
paramount influence over the fortunes of the Jewish race, 
were laid at a very early period, several hundred years 
before the Christian era. 

There is no doubt that Hillel and Shammai founded or, 
more accurately speaking, developed the existing Rabbinic 
schools and gathered into them large numbers of disciples. 
The great development of Rabbinism which is ascribed to the 
two famous teachers Hillel and Shammai was evidently owing 
to the complete absorption of Palestine by Rome, under the 
baleful influence of the royalty of Herod the Great ; these 
causes were gradually undermining Judaism, not only in a 
political but also in its religious aspect. Hillel and Shammai 
were fervid and earnest Jews, and were determined to infuse 
a new religious spirit into the nation. Still, it is more than 
probable that all this early Rabbinism would scarcely have 
been more than a school of curious literary speculation, and 


perhaps would not have seriously and permanently influenced 
the life of the Jewish people, had it not been for the awful 
events of the year A.D. 70. When Jerusalem ceased to exist, 
and the Temple was finally destroyed, then Christianity 
emerged from the heart of Judaism, and gathered into its fold 
many of the Chosen People. 

What happened in the year A.D. 70 had a tremendous effect 
on the life of the Jews, far more than the ordinary historian 
usually assigns to it. It has been tersely but truly said that, 
" unparalleled as were the calamities which attended the 
fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, by far the 
most terrible of all was the total collapse of Judaism as a 
Creed, owing to the annihilation of all the divinely instituted 
means of access to God. The religious pulse of the nation 
ceased to beat, as it were, with a suddenness most appalling. 
We hear nothing of the Sadducees in those days, . . . they 
were swept away like chaff before the tempest never to appear 
any more ; but the Pharisees, to whom the Rabbis and Scribes 
belonged, remained steadfast, and, collecting the poor remnant 
of the people around them, determined to infuse new life into 

Mosaism was irretrievably destroyed in the year of our 
Lord 70, but the foundations of Rabbinism had, as we have 
noticed, been laid long before. It was only necessary to 
consolidate it, to give it shape and form, and to claim for 
the words of its expounders a yet higher authority than had 
as yet been conceded even to the written Law (the Torah). 
And this was done, or more accurately speaking was commenced, 
in the last twenty or thirty years of the first century (the years 
immediately following the catastrophe of A. 0.70) bythe disciples 
of Rabban Jochanan ben Zacchai, who were certainly the 
earliest elaborators of the Mishnah, 1 the first and oldest part 
of the famous Talmud. 

1 What the Mishnah was will be explained below (p. 358), where a general 
description of the Talmud is given. 




Historical summary of events leading up to the com 
pilation and consolidation of the first part of the Talmud 
the Mishnah. 

After A.D. 70, when Jerusalem and the Temple were 
destroyed, an extraordinary group of Rabbis or teachers of 
" the Law " arose men of rare gifts, far-seeing and possessing 
unusual powers of communicating their enthusiasm to other 
men. These teachers recognized the utter hopelessness of 
any further war with Rome ; they abandoned all expecta 
tion of seeing the Temple rebuilt ; they saw that the future 
of Israel lay not in any restoration of its nationality as a 
people that was now hopeless. But Israel alone among the 
people of the world possessed a Divine Law, was the inheritor of 
a glorious promise, a promise which they maintained belonged 
alone to them ; no earthly misfortune could rob the Jew of 
this : they were the people specially beloved of God, and 
only by neglecting the observance of the Divine Law could 
they forfeit the sure and blessed inheritance reserved for 
them. That same Law must be their sole guide in all the 
various details of life in the smallest matters as in the more 
important. In the rigid keeping of it they would in the end 
receive their great reward, the reward reserved for them, 
and for them alone, as the peculiar people of God the Supreme, 
the Almighty. 

For some five centuries, since the days of Ezra and the 
return of the remnant of the people from the Captivity, 
" the Mosaic Law," as contained in the Pentateuch, essenti 
ally in the same form as we now have it, had been 
regarded by the Jew with an almost limitless reverence. The 
acknowledgment of its awful and binding precepts was the 
condition without which no one was a member of the Chosen 
People, or could have a share in the glorious promises reserved 
for them. 


Their teachers insisted that the commands of " the Law " 
(the Torah) were in their entirety the commands of God. 
" He who says that Moses wrote even one verse of his own 
knowledge is a denier and despiser of the Word of God." 
The whole Pentateuch thus came to be regarded as dictated 
by God. Even the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, in 
which the death of Moses is told, were asserted to have been 
written by means of a divine revelation. Some of the teachers 
even went further ; they asserted that the complete book 
of the Law had been handed to Moses by God. 1 

As time went on, the other Books of the " Old Testament " 
at first the writings of the older prophets and works on 
the pre-exilic period of Israel ; then the body of the " pro 
phets " and the other Old Testament writings, became also 
regarded as documents in which the will of God was revealed 
in a manner absolutely binding. 

Round the Law (Torah) had gathered a vast number 
of explanatory directions, and a certain number of traditional 
additions known as " Haggadah." The first of these, the 
directions or explanations, were known by the term " Hala- 
chah." It had become necessary, seeing that the Law 
of Moses was accepted as the divine code for the guidance of 
the Chosen People, to explain and enlarge it further, so as 
to apply its brief enactments to all the conditions of every 
day life. Some few of these Halachah were traditionally 
derived from Moses himself. Others had probably been 
composed very early in the schools of the prophets ; yet 
more were the work of the Scribes, 3 a numerous class of 
teachers which had arisen after the return from exile in the 
days of Ezra. These Halachah (we use the well-known 
expression in preference to the more accurate plural form 
Halachoth ; the same course has been followed in that of 

1 These singular assertions will be found in the Mishnah, in the Talmudic 
treatises of the Sanhedrim and the Baba-Bathra. 

2 Halachah signifies literally custom, practice, rule. The term is further 
explained and illustrated in the following chapter on the " Contents of the 
Talmud." Haggadah, which generally signifies Tradition, is also explained 
and illustrated (see Appendix). 

8 These Scribes, their position and means of livelihood, are discussed more 
fully below on p. 350. 


the expression " Haggadah ") had been largely augmented in 
the half-century preceding the catastrophe of A.D. 70. 

The group of eminent Rabbis who arose after the fall of 
the City and Temple, and who set themselves the task of 
reconstituting Israel on a new and purely religious basis, 
took these Halachah, studied them, meditated on them, 
no doubt recast many of them to suit the new position of the 
people, now that the Temple and its complicated ritual of sacri 
fice and public prayer had disappeared, and framed them into an 
elaborate system of regulations, thus pointing out how the Law 
might be rigidly observed in all the relations of ordinary life. 

This great and elaborate work is termed the Mishnah 1 
or Repetition," the term originally derived from the 
method in which it was elaborated. It was not written 
down in the first instance, but was repeated again and again 
by the more famous teachers and heads of schools to their 
pupils. The term " Mishnah " came in time to signify " the 
second Law," but that was not the original meaning ; it be 
longed to a period when the whole instruction was oral. 

The period of the elaboration of these Halachah (rules) 
and Haggadah (tradition) lasted somewhere about a hundred 
years or a little more. The great teachers who busied them 
selves in this work are ordinarily termed the Mishnic Rabbis 
the Talmud term for them being Tannaim. 

In the last years of the second century the Mishnah or 
first part of the Talmud was virtually closed, and the great 
Rabbinic schools then busied themselves in further com 
menting upon and explaining the Halachah (rules) and 
Haggadah (traditions) of the Mishnah ; these further com 
ments and explanations are known as the Gemara. 

This second part of the Talmud, known as " Gemara/ * 
the complement of the first or Mishnic portion, was the 
outcome of the labours of several hundred Doctors or 
Rabbis. Two famous schools of Rabbinical study carried 
on the great work of commenting on the Mishnah. The one, 
the Palestinian, had its headquarters in Tiberias. The 
chief centres of the other, the Babylonian, were Sura and 
Pumbeditha. In both these compilations the same Mishnah 

1 The Mishnah and the Gemara are explained in detail below on p. 358. 


is the text on which the vast body of commentary is based. 
But the Gemara, or commentary, is in many cases different. 
The Palestinian Talmud in the form which now exists is 
much shorter than the Eastern or Babylonian work. The 
Palestinian Rabbis worked from about the year of our Lord 
190 ; their work was closed in the middle of the fifth century. 
The labours of the Babylonian doctors may be dated from 
the last years of the second, and were closed in the middle or 
later years of the sixth century. 

The Babylonian the larger Talmud, containing theMishnah 
and Gemara, which has come down to us fairly intact, fills 
some twelve large folio volumes, and covers no less than 
2947 folio leaves in double columns ; or in other words, 5894 
pages written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Rabbinic. The nature 
of these vast compilations is described more in detail in a later 
section of this Fifth Book. 

The Talmudic term for the doctors of the Gemara is Amoraim. 

The one purpose and object of the Talmud, followed out 
with a changeless and restless industry by the doctors of the 
Mishnah and the Gemara, from the year 70 to nearly the 
close of the sixth century that is to say, for a period of some 
five hundred years was the Glorification of Israel. Law and 
legend, rule and tradition, massed together with rare 
skill, all dwell on this. The Jews, and only the Jews, were the 
people chosen by God. If they would but honour Him and 
serve Him faithfully they would in the end win the exceeding 
great and promised reward. The way, and the only way, to 
know Him and to serve Him \vas pointed out with unerring 
lucidity and a marvellous wealth of detail in the mighty com 
pilation of the Talmud. They were strictly warned against 
encouraging proselytes. The ineffable blessings belonged 
to the Jew and to the Jew alone. Again, the exceeding 
great reward belonged not to the successful Jewish soldier, 
but to the Jew who kept the stern Law handed down from 
Moses to prophet, and by prophet to scribe, and by scribe 
to the Rabbis who compiled the Mishnah and Gemara, which 
together make up the Talmud. The question of revolt against 
Rome found no place in the Talmud teaching. 


After the three great wars especially after the first, which 
closed with the destruction of the Temple the Jew had no 
nationality, no country. He needed none. He had something 
far greater. He, and only he, was possessor of the blessed 
Divine Law ; the solitary heir of its glorious promises. 

The Talmud became the bond which linked together in 
one solid group the Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria, of Rome 
and Babylonia. Its power over the Jewish mind became 
boundless. It possessed indeed a wondrous fascination for 
every child of Israel. It impressed upon each member of the 
scattered race, in a w r ay no teaching had ever previously done, 
the consciousness who he was, and what was the awful nature 
of his inheritance. Strong in this consciousness, he endured 
all the wrongs and persecutions, the cruel acts and yet more 
cruel words which have been, with rare interludes, his lot 
since A.D. 70. All through the subsequent ages he endured 
a bitter persecution, which even in our own day and time is 
still in many lands constantly ready to break out against him. 

Strong in this consciousness he lives on, a willing wanderer 
and a stranger among the various nations of the earth, hated and 
hating, feared but at the same time honoured ; ever increasing 
in numbers, in wealth, and influence. His hand is in each group 
of statesmen, now publicly, more often hidden, but always there : 
he is yet greater in the exchanges and marts of the nations ; 
the finance of every civilized country is more or less guided by 
him, more or less subject to his dictation and supervision. 

Who now, men ask, is this ever-present changeless Jew ? 
WTiat is the secret of his power and ever-growing influence ? 
The second great awakening the awakening to the grandeur 
of his true position in the world s story when all seemed lost, 
when his Temple and City were destroyed, when he became 
at once homeless, landless, an outcast hated, even despised, 
as far as we can see, was the work of the Doctors and Rabbis 
of Tiberias in Galilee, and of Sura and other centres in 
Babylonia, in the years which followed the crushing ruin of 
A.D. 70. It was the work of the compilers and teachers of the 
Mishnah and Gemara which together made up the Talmud. 
We may now and again wonder at the curious and startling 
assertions of the Mishnah, and even smile at some of the 


marvellous extravagances of the Gemara ; but when we ponder 
over the wonderful story of the Jew during the eighteen 
centuries which have passed since the desolation of A.D. 70, 
we dare not mock at the Talmud. 

When we consider the whole question of what we have 
termed " the great awakening " of the Jewish people after the 
sudden and tremendous ruin of the City and Temple ; the com 
plete change in the heart of the Jew ; the abandonment of the 
old dream of the restoration of the kingdom of Israel ; the 
adoption of a spiritual kingdom in its place : when we remember 
the universal reverence for, the implicit obedience which very 
soon began to be paid to, the teaching of the Mishnah and 
Gemara the Talmud a reverence and an obedience which 
completely changed the life, the views, the hopes of the 
scattered race in all lands, we ask the pressing question : 
Whence came all this the mighty change, the enthusiasm 
which has never paled or waned ? The Mishnic Rabbis the 
Gemara teachers, numerous, able, and devoted though they 
were, some few of them men of lofty genius and profound 
scholarship, do not account for this amazing result. 

The " Talmud/" the outcome of these famous Rabbinic 
schools of the early Christian centuries, with its wild extrava 
gances, its many beautiful thoughts, its peculiar and rigid 
system, touched the heart of the Jew, and bound together this 
people condemned to wander through the ages without a home, 
a country, a nationality, with a link no time, no human 
hate or scorn has been able to break or even to loose. 

The strange weird Book was God s mysterious instrument 
by which He has chosen to preserve intact the people He once 
loved loves still until the day, perhaps still far distant, 
dawns when the Jew, with eyes opened at last, shall look 
on Him whom they pierced. 


One l who loved with a love passionate, though not always 
discriminating, this vast wondrous compilation which has so 
1 Dr. Emanuel Deutsch. 


marvellously affected the fortunes of the Chosen People, has 
written the following words : " The origin of the Talmud is 
coeval with the return from the Babylonish Captivity (some 
five centuries before Christ). One of the most mysterious and 
momentous periods in the history of humanity is that brief span 
of the Exile. What were the influences brought to bear upon 
the captives during that time we know not. But this we know, 
that from a reckless, lawless, godless populace they returned 
transformed inlo a band of Puritans. . . . The change is there, 
palpable, unmistakable a change we may regard as almos: 
miraculous. Scarcely aware before of the existence of their 
glorious national literature, the people now began to press rounc 
these brands plucked from the fire, the scanty records of their 
faith and history, with a fierce and passionate love, a love 
stronger than that of wife and child. These same documents, as 
they were gradually formed into a canon, became the immutable 
centre of their lives, their actions, their thoughts, their very 
dreams. From that time forth, with scarcely any intermission, 
the keenest as well as the most practical minds of the nation 
remained fixed upon them. Turn it, and turn it again, says 
the Talmud with regard to the Bible, for everything is in it." 

After the fall of the City and the burning of the Temple in 
A.D. 70 the wonderful records of the Jew and his Book (the 
Talmud) are all clear and definite. How it was composed, 
who compiled it, and why it was put out, all this belongs to 
history, and forms a most important though little known 
chapter in the annals of the Chosen People ; in some respects 
also it is a most weighty piece of evidential history perhaps 
the most weighty possessed by Christianity. 

But some of the materials out of which the great Book 
(the Talmud), which has so enormously influenced the fortunes 
of the Chosen People for so many centuries, was composed, 
existed before the catastrophe of A.D. 70. We will briefly 
examine what we know of the ancient materials of the Talmud ; 
the examination will be of the highest interest. 

It is certain that very early no doubt in the far-back days of 
Moses there must have existed, as we have already suggested, 
a number of explanatory laws which set forth in detail many 


of the laws and regulations broadly laid down in the original 
written code of the great lawgiver. Questions must have been 
asked again and again To what cases in actual life the brief 
written precept applied, what consequences it in general 
entailed, and what was to be done that the commandments 
might be fairly, even rigidly observed. In a number of cases 
the original written Law gave no direct answer. 

To supply this need a body of Halachah (the word Halachah, 
as we have stated, signifies rule, practice, custom) gathered 
round the written Law (the Torah). Some of these Halachah, 
tradition said, were given by Moses himself ; others were said 
to have been devised by that primitive council of the desert 
wanderings, the elders, and by their successors, the later "judges 
within the gates," referred to in the Pentateuch. As time 
went on the Halachah or authoritative oral Law of explana 
tion no doubt formed an important branch of the studies 
pursued in those schools of the prophets founded by Samuel 
in the early days of the monarchy schools of which we know 
so little, but which throughout the pre-exilic days evidently 
played a part in the life of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. 

On the return from the Captivity, some five centuries before 
the Christian era, the remnant of the nation who returned to 
their desolated land came back a changed people " a band of 
Puritans " we have, with scarcely any exaggeration, termed 
them ; while the Divine Law which once many, perhaps the 
majority, of the people neglected, the very existence of which 
they had ignored, almost forgotten, became the object of their 
passionate love. 

During the period of exile, of which we know so little but 
in the course of which the great change to which we have been 
dimly alluding passed over the people, the memory of the oral 
Law, much of the ancient Halachah, the traditions, the sacred 
expositions which make up the Haggadah, were kept alive by 
teachers, in the first instance by the men who had been trained 
in the schools of the prophets. Then after the return from exile 
the study of all these treasured memories some, as we have 
already suggested, possibly dating from thedaysof Moses which 
surrounded the now precious Law, received a new development. 
The Law, the Halachah, the traditions generally known as 


Haggadah, were no longer the mere heritage of the scholars 
who composed the somewhat mysterious schools of the prophets 
we read of in the days of the kings, but were now regarded 
as the precious treasure of the whole nation. 

As the Divine Law rose in public estimation its scientific 
study and exposition became a great and popular craft. Every 
individual of the nation was interested in knowing it and 
obeying it. A numerous and independent class or guild arose 
which made its investigation and study the chief business cf 
life. These men were known as the Scribes ; they became the 
recognised teachers of the nation. Some of them were men 
of independent means, but the majority practised some trade 
or business out of which they lived. They were tent-makers, 
sandal-makers, weavers, carpenters, tanners, bakers, etc., bui: 
the study of the Law was their loved occupation, and some of 
them attained great proficiency in their work. Such a class 
of men had never existed in any people before has nevei 
made its appearance since in any nation. 1 

This study of the Law became a veritable science, a science 
that gradually assumed the very widest dimensions. The 
name given to it is " Midrash " interpretation, and it in 
cluded study, meditation, exposition, investigation, inquiry. 
The men of the " Return from Exile " who devoted them 
selves to this work took as the foundation of their labours, 
first the written Law of Moses, then gradually the records 
of the Prophets and the other writings subsequently included 
in the Old Testament canon ; and to this material was added 
the oral Law, or such portion of it which had been preserved, 
including the sacred traditions which had been handed down 
from the days of Moses and his successors, and treasured 
up in the schools of the prophets. In this " Midrash " for 
we will keep to the well-known term which generally included 
all this varied and comprehensive study of the Scribes who 
lived in the period between the Return from the Exile and the 
Christian era two distinct currents can be distinguished. 
The first of these great currents may be termed Prose, the 
second Poetry. The first (the prose) is called Halachah 

1 The period here referred to extended from the return from the Captivity 
the days of Ezra roughly until the Christian era. 


(rules, customs) ; the second (the poetry), Haggadah (tradi 
tion and legend, including parable, allegory, lessons). 1 

The Halachah (rules) for a very long period were never 
written down, but were transmitted from teacher to teacher 
in an unbroken succession, orally, with many and various 
additions. The Haggadah (traditions) in many cases were, 
however, written down, and so transmitted. 

Thus from the period of the Return from the Exile a vast 
bulk of teaching, largely unwritten, traditional, and legendary, 
all founded on and closely bearing on the Law (Torah), had 
been collected by the Scribes and their schools stretching over 
a period of about five centuries. Some thirty years before 
the Christian era Hillel, the great Rabbinic master of the 
period, endeavoured to reduce this great mass of teaching, 
oral and written, rule and tradition, Halachah and 
Haggadah, to some definite system and order. He did 
something in this direction, but died before his task was in any 
real way completed, and for many years nothing further was 
done in the way of codifying or arrangement. 

Then came the great upheaval of A.D. 70, when the Holy 
City was razed to the ground ; when it appeared as though 
the religion of the Jew was destroyed, now that the Temple 
round which all the cherished memories of the people were 
grouped had disappeared. Curiously enough, as it appears 
to men, the contrary was the case : a wonderful resurrection 
of religious life was the almost immediate outcome of the falJ 
of the City and Temple. 

A group of singularly able and devoted men, as we have 
already remarked, arose at this critical moment in Jewish 
history when all seemed lost. Judaism in the year 70, when 
the long and bitter war with Rome was finally closed, was 
stripped of everything. It had lost for ever its position as a 
nation. Its Temple, the joy of the whole world, as their royal 
songman pictured it, was a heap of shapeless ruins. Its most 
sacred treasures were carried away to adorn an Italian triumph. 
The Holy City was literally razed to the ground. The pro- 

1 At the close of this Fifth Book is a short general description of " Hagga 
dah." See, too, in the Appendix for a further description of Haggadah and 


mised land of their fathers was desolated. Thousands of 
the people were slain or reduced to slavery. Of the Jews 
who dwelt as strangers in Egypt, Syria, and Italy the very 
name was hated and despised. Only one thing remained to the 
sad remnant of the Chosen People : the sacred Law of Moses, 
the Torah the writings of their old prophets their treasured 
Psalms the undying records of their past glorious history. 

And these precious writings, and the wonderful bod} 
of rule and tradition, oral and written, which had gathered 
round them, the Halachah and Haggadah of the Scribes, 
collected during the previous four or five centuries, these 
were saved from the awful wreck, and a group of devoted 
Jews gathered them together, and with them at once pro 
ceeded to train up a new and a yet greater and more influential 
people than had ever before worshipped the Eternal of Hosts, 
even in the golden days of their mighty kings David and 
Solomon ; but the foundation-stories of the grandeur of the 
new Israel were not to be built with human materials. No 
army, no strong fortress, no stately city, not even a visible 
temple made with hands after the fashion of the glorious 
lost House of God, were for the future to rank among the proud 
and cherished possessions of the Jew. Only the Divine Law 
given him direct from God the One Supreme, the Ever 
lasting, for the future was to represent to the Jew home and 
hearth, family and nation, City and Temple. 

If the Jews the scattered harassed remnant who sur 
vived the bloody Roman war of Titus would with heart and 
soul keep the precepts of the Divine Law, what mattered 
insult and cruelty, human scorn and malice, suffering and 
misery for a little season ; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
the beatitude which awaited the Jew who loved the Torah. 
This was the teaching of that group of fervid and devoted 
men who, so to speak, arose out of the ashes of the ruins of 
Jerusalem and the Temple. And the sad remnant of the 
people hearkened to this teaching, and with heart and soul 
revered the Law, the Torah of their God. 

All this is no mere rhetoric, strange though it reads : it 
is plain unvarnished history. 

Undismayed by the crushing ruin of A.D. 70, the 


chief Rabbinic leaders, when Jerusalem was destroyed, re 
established their schools at Jamnia (Jabne), a town close to 
the sea, south of Joppa. They had little sympathy with the 
extreme party of Nationalists, the Zealots ; for they saw 
that any serious conflict with Rome was utterly hopeless, so 
they diverted the thoughts and aspirations of the survivors 
of the great revolt into other channels. The cult of the Law 
henceforward must be the work of Israel. They were wonder 
fully successful, and soon infused into the heart of the Chosen 
People something of their burning zeal ; for what they taught, 
they maintained, were the very words and commands of the 
Eternal of Hosts. 

A great master, Jochanan ben Zacchai, soon made the new 
school of Jamnia a notable centre of the new work. We use 
the term " new " ; for although Rabbinism and the scientific 
study of the Law had existed long before the events of A.D. 70, 
it received a fresh and striking impulse when the Temple and 
City existed no longer. 

Round the chair of Jochanan gathered quickly a band of 
faithful disciples who shared in the quiet enthusiasm of the 
great master, and in the last twenty-five or thirty years of 
the fatal century which had witnessed the terrible victory 
of Titus, the real foundations of the Talmud, which united 
and bound together the Chosen People for centuries, which 
preserved them from disintegration and welded them once 
more into one great race, were laid. 

Rome allowed this new spirit to grow up among the rem 
nant of the people she had crushed, and made no effort to 
interfere with the Jamnia Rabbinic school. The statesmen 
of the Empire were quite content that the restless people, so 
long a danger to the State, should turn its attention to other 
matters unconnected with aspirations after independence. 
It was no doubt with some contempt that they witnessed the 
growth of the new spirit among the turbulent nation. It was 
nothing to Rome this singular devotion to an old Law and 
a traditional revelation which the Jew considered divine. 
They little thought that the Jew and his ancient Law would 
outlive the mighty Empire of which they were so proud, 
and that the despised and crushed race and its cherished 


belief would influence in a marvellous way the civilized 
world for hundreds of years after Rome had become the 
mere shadow of a name. 

The great Jewish revolt of A.D. 117 had little influence 
upon the fortunes and wonderful growth of the Rabbinic 
schools, the chief seat of which was in Palestine. The scenes, 
of that rebellion and its ghastly punishment were far removed 
from Palestine, and what happened in Cyrene, Egypt, and 
Cyprus only slightly affected the dwellers in the old Land ol 

But the next revolt the rebellion we have termed the 
third great Jewish war had a different scene. Once more 
Palestine witnessed a dangerous and bloody war, when 
Bar-cochab, a mistaken enthusiast and patriot, raised again 
the standard of rebellion against Rome, and, asserting that 
he was the long-looked-for Messiah, gave this last formidable 
Jewish rising the character of a religious war. 

As a rule the great masters of the new Rabbinic schools 
were out of sympathy with the Zealots who had risen against 
Rome in this last disastrous revolt ; but one of their number, 
the famous Rabbi Akiba, curiously enough, had espoused 
their cause, and certain others of the more eminent Rabbinic 
teachers, no doubt owing to his influence, had rallied to 
the cause of Bar-cochab in the desperate and hopeless 

Rabbi Akiba occupies among the early group -of founders 
of the Talmud, who flourished from circa A.D. 70 to circa 
A.D. 190, perhaps the most prominent position. He was even 
termed the "second Moses," so sought after were his teachings 
and expositions of the sacred Law, and its subsequent explana 
tions and additions the Halachah. He gathered round him 
not only a host of younger pupils, but among his disciples 
w r ere numbered a group of Rabbis who became subsequently 
the chief teachers of their day and time. It has been often 
asked what induced this great Rabbinic scholar and teacher 
to throw in his lot with a wild enthusiast like Bar-cochab, 
and to support that impostor s baseless claim to be recog 
nized as the promised Messiah. 

The answer perhaps is that Akiba, in common with others 


of the new school of Rabbinism, which aimed at restoring 
the fallen Judaism by means of an enthusiastic devotion to 
the Divine Law, recognised that in Christianity must be sought 
and found the most dangerous foe to the Rabbinic conception 
of the Chosen People. After the fall of the City and Temple, 
and the breaking up of every national and religious bond, 
there was grave danger that the Jewish people would become 
absorbed among the Gentile Christians. It is probable that 
already some of the Rabbis were secretly persuaded of the 
truth of the Gospel story. Rabbi Akiba was, however, one of 
the most energetic opponents of Christianity, and he welcomed 
the appearance of the pseudo-Messiah Bar-cochab as a rival 
to Jesus of Nazareth. 

But great though the influence of Akiba was, for he 
persuaded some Jews, he evidently did not carry the bulk 
of the Rabbinic teachers with him, for the Talmud execrates 
the name of Bar-cochab, though it ever mentions the name 
of Akiba with the deepest and tenderest veneration. The 
great learning and the devoted behaviour of the loved 
teacher under the most excruciating tortures which accom 
panied his execution by the Roman government, saved his 
memory from the bitter reproaches with which the Talmud 
speaks of Bar-cochab and the authors of the last ill-fated and 
useless revolt. 1 

Akiba is ever remembered as one of the greatest of this 
wonderful group of Talmud founders, as well as a very noble 

Rabbi Akiba s work was not limited to exposition and ex 
planation and elaborate discussions in the academies of the 
traditional Halachah or oral comments on the Law of Moses. 

1 Of Akiba, the Mishnah tells us, as he was in his last agonies, while his 
flesh was being torn with combs of iron, he kept repeating the words of the 
" Shema " invocation, " Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One." He 
lingered over the word One, and expired as he uttered the word " One." The 
ministering angels then said before the Holy One, " Such is Torah (the Law), 
and such is its reward." Bath Qol (the heavenly voice) went forth and said, 
" Happy art thou, Rabbi Akiba, that thou art invited to the life of the world 
to come. . . ." 

Such was the end of Akiba, the most exalted, most romantic, and most 
heroic character perhaps in that vast gallery of the learned of his time. The 
most remarkable period of his career may be dated about A.D. 110-35. 


He was virtually the first 1 who attempted to codify and 
arrange the vast accumulation of these Halachah and Hag- 
gadah, and to reduce them into something like order and 
arrangement. Some years after Akiba s death, about the 
middle of the second century, his most famous disciple, the 
Rabbi Meir, who is known in the Talmud as the " Light 
of the Law," took up his master Akiba s work, and went on 
with arranging and codifying the Halachah, introducing, 
however, many more Halachah into his codification, and 
supplementing and illustrating his expositions with many 
interesting traditions (Haggadah) 2 ; thus preparing the way 
for the more elaborate collection or recension of Rabbi Judah 
Ha-Nasi the Holy who is known in the Talmud as " Rabbi " 
the Rabbi par excellence. " Rabbi s " great work of codifi 
cation may be dated about the years A.D. 200-19, or there 

The work of " Rabbi," somewhat enlarged and recast, 
is with us still. It represents fairly the Mishnah which 
was used as the text of the great Gemara 3 commentaries 
compiled in the schools of Palestine and Babylonia 4 between 
the end of the second century and the last years of the sixth 
century. The Mishnah of " Rabbi," which was largely 
based upon the collections of Rabbi Akiba and his disciple 
Rabbi Meir, and the Gemaras of Palestine and Babylonia, 4 
compiled in centuries three, four, five, and six, make up the 

There was a strict traditional interdiction which dated 
back at least to the centuries which followed the Return 
from the Exile, if not earlier, against ever committing the 
Halachah and the discussions of the Scribes upon the Halachah 
to writing. The latest Jewish scholars have decided that to 
a certain extent the interdiction was removed by " Rabbi " in 

1 The preliminary work of Hillel in this direction of arranging and codifying 
seems not to have been carried on. 

3 " Haggadah," as the better -known word, is substituted for the more 
accurate plural form " Haggadoth." 

8 For a full definition of these two famous terms Mishnah and Gemara, see 
below, p. 358, where the terms in question are explained at some length. 

4 The Palestinian Gemara was closed nearly a century and a half before 
the Babylonian Gemara was completed. 


the very early years of the third century, or at the close of the 
second century. 

We may assume, then, with tolerable certainty that "Rabbi" 
in his old age reduced the great collection of Halachah to 
writing, transgressing, in a way, the ancient tradition which 
forbade this. He seems to have considered that the prohibi 
tion, if maintained in its ancient strictness, might endanger 
the preservation of the precious teaching. 

" Rabbi " did not entirely abrogate the interdiction, for the 
oral method of instruction continued during the period of 
the Gemara discussions in Palestine and in Babylonia : the 
teacher alone using the written Halachah, which made up the 
redaction of the Mishnah by " Rabbi " as a guide ; the pupils, 
however, always repeating the lesson orally. 

Before the fall of Jerusalem the great Sanhedrim was 
the ultimate resort for decisions in the Law, though it is true 
that as a rule it accepted the Law as developed by the great 
teachers ; but still, " from thence," i.e. from the Sanhedrim, 
as the Mishnah says, " proceeded the Law for all Israel." 
But after A.D. 70 the great Sanhedrim ceased to exist. This 
of course gave a very marked increase in prestige and power 
to the acknowledged leading Rabbis or Masters in the Rabbinic 

The principal task of these doctors was to teacn the Law. 
The ideal was that every Israelite should have a knowledge 
of this Divine Law. Of course, this ideal was unattainable, 
but the famous Rabbis without doubt gathered round them 
great numbers who longed for special instruction in what had 
come to be looked on as the glory and hope of their race. 
" Bring up many scholars " was a famous ancient saying. 

The instruction in the Palestinian schools of Jamnia and 
Lydda, and a little later more especially at Tiberias, and also 
in the famous Babylonian schools such as Sura, 1 Nehardea, 
and Pumbeditha, consisted in a continual exercise of the 
memory. The oral Law before the days of " Rabbi," at 
the close of the second century, was never committed to 
writing, the teacher repeating his matter again and again. 

1 The Rabbinic school of Sura was founded by Rab, one of the most 
important pupils of R. Judah Ha-Nasi (Rabbi). 


This invariable method of teaching in the Rabbinical schools 
was the origin of the term Mishnah (repetition). 1 

The system of teaching was absolutely different from that 
of our modern colleges and universities. The masters of 
the various schools did not confine themselves to giving 
lectures which the pupils could take down. Here all was 
busy life, excitement, debate ; question was met by question, 
and countless questions and answers were given, wrapped 
up in allegory, parable, and legend, of course under the 
guidance and direction of the head of the academy. 

1 Mishnah. A noun formed from the verb " shanah," to repeat. In 
post-Biblical Hebrew the verb " shanah " acquired the special meaning of 
" to teach" and " to learn" that which was not transmitted in writing, 
but only orally. Evidently the idea of frequent recitation underlies the word. 

Mishnah signifies " Instruction " the teaching and learning the tradition. 
It is the Law which is transmitted orally, in contrast to the term Mikra, which 
signifies the Law which is written and read. 

The Halachah, finally redacted by Judah Ha-Nasi the Holy (Rabbi), 
circa A.D. 200-19, were designated the Mishnah, and were adopted by the 
Rabbis of the Gemara as the text upon which they worked. This Mishnah 
of R. Judah the Holy was adopted simultaneously by the Rabbis and Doctors 
of the Law in the academies of Palestine and Babylonia. 

Although the Mishnah may be said to consist chiefly of Halachah, it 
contains several entire treatises of an Haggadic nature e.g. " Aboth," " Mid- 
doth," etc. and numerous Haggadic pieces are scattered here and there among 
the Halachah. In both the Talmudim (the Palestinian and Babylonian) 
there are thousands of Haggadic notices interspersed among the Halachah. 

The Rabbis of the Mishnah were termed Tannaim ; the earlier Rabbis of the 
Gemara were termed Amoraim. 

The Rabbinical headquarters of Palestine and Babylonia alike regarded 
the study of the Mishnah as their chief task. In Palestine the principal 
academies were Jamnia (Jabne), Lydda, and subsequently Tiberias. In 
Babylonia the principal seats of the academies were Sepphoris, Nehardea, 
Pumbeditha, and especially Sura. 

Gemara. The word signifies " that which has been learned," the learning 
transmitted to scholars by tradition ; and in a more restricted sense it came 
to denote " the traditional exposition of the Mishnah." 

Talmud primarily means " teaching," though it denotes also " learning " ; 
practically it is a mere amplification of the Mishnah, the Talmud being made 
up of the Mishnah and Gemara. 

Like the Mishnah, the Talmud was not the work of one author, or of 
several authors, but was the result of the collective labours of many successive 
generations, whose task finally resulted in the great and complex book known 
as the Talmud. 

The Palestinian Talmud received its present form in the academy of 
Tiberias; the Babylonian Talmud, largely in the academy of Sura. 


A most interesting picture of the inner life and organiza 
tion of the Rabbinical schools or academies in which the 
Talmud was slowly and deliberately composed is given in the 
vast and scholarly Jewish Encyclopaedia (completed in the 
year 1906). A very brief precis of this is attempted here. 
The date of the picture in question is as late as the tenth 
century, and refers especially to a comparatively late period 
in the Rabbinical work ; but much of it goes back to the time 
of the Amoraim, the earliest Rabbis of the Gemara, who were 
the teachers from the first part of the third century. 

It may be taken as an account and general description of 
the method in which the two versions of the Talmud were 
composed, in Palestine as well as in Babylonia, in such academ 
ical centres of Rabbinism as Sura and Tiberias. The picture 
especially refers to the Babylonian academies of Pumbeditha 
and Sura, but without doubt a very similar procedure was 
followed in the Palestinian academy of Tiberias. 

The students or disciples appear to have assembled twice 
every year, the discussion and instruction lasting four weeks. 

In the month Elah at the close of the summer, and in the 
month Adar at the end of the winter, the disciples desiring 
instruction in the sacred Law journeyed to the academy, 
say of Sura, or of Pumbeditha, from their various abodes, 
having carefully studied and prepared during the previous 
five months the special treatise of the Mishnah announced 
at the academy at the close of the preceding session by the 
head of the Rabbinic school as the subject for discussion at 
the next session. 

They at once presented themselves on arriving at Sura 
to the head of the academy, who proceeded to examine them 
on the treatise of the Mishnah fixed beforehand. 

They sat in the following order or rank : seventy of the 
senior or principal pupils were placed nearest to the head, 
or president, of the school, the number seventy being a 
reminiscence of the great Sanhedrim. 

Behind these seventy sat the other disciples and members 
of the academy. 

The foremost row the seventy recited aloud the subject- 
matter of the discussion and of instruction which were to 


follow ; they recited, too, any passage which seemed to require 
especial consideration, which they debated among themselves, 
the " head," or president, all the while silently taking notes 
of the debate. 

The " head " after this lectured generally on the treatise, 
the subject of the discussion, adding an exposition of those 
special passages which had given rise to the debate. 

Sometimes in the course of his lecture the " head " asked 
a question as to how the disciples would explain a certain 
Halachah. The question had to be answered by the 
scholars he chose to name. After the answer or answers had 
been received the " head " added his own exposition of the 
Halachah in question. 

Subsequently one of the " seventy " senior students gave an 
address, summing up the arguments! which had arisen out of the 
theme the Halachah which they had been considering. 

In the fourth week of the session the " seventy " and other 
of the students were examined individually by the " head " 
of the academy. 

Questions received from various quarters were also dis 
cussed for final solution. The " head " listened, and finally 
formulated his decisions, which were written down. The 
results of the meeting of the academy during the month of 
session were finally signed by the " head " of the academy. 

The details and comments contained in the foregoing 
sections of the Fifth Book (" The Jew and the Talmud ") are 
mainly confined to the great official work of Rabbinic Judaism 
known as the Talmud, made up of the Mishnah and its com 
mentary, the Gemara. 

But besides this vast compilation, it must be borne in mind 
that there exists an enormous mass of Rabbinic literature 
outside the Talmud, such as the non-canonical Mishnah, the 
Targumim, the Midrashim, the Kabbala, etc. Some of this 
dates from a very early period, and possesses a high authority 
among the recognized Jewish teachers. 

Most of these extra-Talmudical writings are Haggadic 
in character. 



All this mighty superstructure of " Mishnah and Gemara," 
which occupied so many of the greatest and most earnest 
minds in Israel for several centuries, was built up on the 
foundations of a Law (Torah) recognised as given by 
God Himself. The Books containing this Law (Torah), the 
Pentateuch, were accepted as divine in the course of the 
five centuries which intervened between the return from exile 
and the Christian era. The Pentateuch at first constituted 
the canon of Jewish Scripture. Its acknowledgment, though, 
no doubt dates from a much older period long before the days 
of the Exile. We do not, however, possess sufficient historical 
data to define accurately the position w r hich the Law held 
in pre-exilic Israel. To the Pentateuch was subsequently 
added the writings of the Prophets and the sacred works 
belonging to the older pre-exilic history of Israel. The canon 
of Scripture was completed and acknowledged much in its 
present form certainly 200 years before the age of Jesus Christ. 

But although the prophets and other writings belonging to 
the pre-exilic period had been subsequently added to the 
Torah (the Law of Moses), it is certain that they never were 
placed quite on a level with it. 


After the question Wliat constituted the canonical writings, 
the Divine Word ? was finally and authoritatively settled, 
the next step was to ensure the preservation of the sacred text 
which contained the Divine Revelation. The Scribes had 
determined what were the canonical books. The text of these 
books was handed over to another group of scholars known as 
the Massoretes. The precise chronology of these various steps 
is unknown. 

The word " Massorah " comes from the Hebrew " Masar," 
to give something into the hand of another so as to commit it 


to his trust. The work and duty of the Massoretes the 
authoritative custodians of the sacred text was to safeguard 
it, so as to protect it from any change. This they did effectu 
ally by " building a hedge round it." To do this, they carefully 
registered all the phenomena in the ancient manuscripts, the 
reason for and meaning of many of which were not understood ; 
but they were carefully noted and preserved. Some words 
were found which had been dotted over ; some were spelt wir.h 
large, some with smaller letters ; some words and expressions 
were archaic, that is, belonging to a much earlier date in their 
history ; some were suspended above the line ; some sentences 
contained peculiar expressions : such-like phenomena and 
peculiarities in the ancient MSS. were diligently recorded by 
the Massoretes, none were overlooked. 

Other textual notes were carefully made, such as the number 
of verses in each sacred book. The middle verse and word of 
each great section in each book and even in the whole Bible i 
were also recorded. All important words were noted ; the 
number of times that each letter of the alphabet occurs in each 
division in each book and in the whole Bible were diligently 
written down. All this, and very much more of such curious 
statistical information, was registered by the Massoretes so as 
to lock and interlock every letter, word, and line into its place, 
that the original text of the ancient MSS. might be preserved 
and faithfully reproduced and handed down by any copyist who 
followed the direction of the Massorah. 

That some of this curious elaborate work was done, that 
some of this vast hedge l round the Law was planted before 
the fall of the City and Temple in A.D. 70, is fairly certain. 
But there is no doubt that the extremely complicated and 
exhaustive work of the Massoretes to ensure the preservation of 
the ancient text was really elaborated and completed in those 
centuries after the Christian era when the composition of the 
Mishnah and Gemara occupied the attention of the great 

1 R. Akiba (early second century) in the Mishnah treatise " Pirke Aboth " 
used to say, "Massorah is a fence to the Torah." This has been generally 
understood as a reference to the Massorah of which we are speaking here. But 
many scholars now consider that R. Akiba was referring in this saying to 
" tradition " generally, and they understand the word Massorah as correlative 
to " Kabbala " (tradition in general), such as is embodied in the Mishnah. 


Rabbinic academies which arose after the ruin of the City and 
Temple, in Palestine and in Babylonia. 

This very brief sketch of the Massorah will give some idea 
of how exceedingly precious in the eyes of the Jew for many 
centuries has been the text of his loved Scriptures. 

We possess no MSS. of the Hebrew Bible older than the 
first half of the ninth century. The reason of the non-existence 
of any very ancient MSS. is probably owing to the fact of the 
Jews being in the habit of burying old and worn-out copies of 
the Scriptures lest the worn material, the valuable parchment 
or papyrus, should be employed for any secular purpose. 
The text we now possess is, however, certainly that which was 
current in the seventh and eighth centuries of the Christian era, 
and there is little doubt that it accurately represents a much 
older text. 

The Massoretic notes, something of the general purport of 
which is described above, are written above and below the 
three columns into which usually each page of the MS. 
of the Scriptures is divided. These notes are termed the 
" Massorah Magna " ; while on the margin and between the 
columns are more Massoretic notes. These are termed the 
" Massorah Parva." 

The composition of these notes, which included every 
phenomenon of the text, as well as a vast number of interesting 
statistical facts bearing on the text, went on for well-nigh a 
thousand years, and eventually they amounted to an enormous 
bulk of material. It became in time absolutely impossible 
to write down anything approaching to the whole of the 
Massorah in any single MS. Hence, whenever a new copy of 
the Scriptures was ordered by an individual or a community, 
the Massoretic scribes were in the habit of transcribing only so 
much of the Massorah as they deemed of especial importance 
and interest, or as much of the Massorah as they considered a 
fair equivalent for the price paid for the MS. Thus it has come 
about that there is no single MS. of the Old Testament which 
contains the whole or anything approximating to the whole 
Massorah. The present scholarly editor of the Massorah 
(Dr. Ginsberg) has some seventy-two ancient MSS. of the Old 
Testament collected in the British Museum, from which he is 


gathering the different Massoretic notes for the monumental 
work on which he is engaged. 

The mass of material put together by successive genera 
tions of scribes is so enormous that much of it has been ever 
gathered into separate treatises ; it having been found in 
old time simply impossible to find space for it in any codex, 
although all manner of abbreviations and signs to compress 
the notes into a smaller compass have been devised by the 
ancient scribes. 

Such was the Massorah, that marvellous and unique 
apparatus devised by the Rabbis for the preservation of the 
ancient text of the Scriptures. A brief sketch showing the 
estimation in which these Scriptures, or at all events the Law 
proper, the Pentateuch, was held by the great Rabbinical 
schools, is indispensable to this little study on the Talmud. 



We read in the Mishnah such statements as the following : 
" He who asserts that the Torah is not from heaven has 
no part in the world to come." (Sanhedrim, x. 7.) 

As time went on this view of inspiration was held with 
increasing strictness. At first the commands of " the Law " 
were all that was signified in such a saying as the one just 
quoted, but gradually the whole Pentateuch was included 
in this assertion of the direct Divine authority ; in the Mishnah 
we read startling sayings, such as we have already given, viz. : 
He who says that Moses wrote even one word of his own 
knowledge is a denier and despiser of the Word of God." (San 
hedrim, 99.) Even the last verses of Deuteronomy which 
tell of the death of Moses were affirmed to have been written 
by Moses himself, having been dictated to him by Divine 

The only point in dispute was whether the whole Torah 


was given to Moses by God complete at once, or handed to 
him by volumes. (Gittin 6oa.) 

In course of time Divine inspiration was taught as belong 
ing to the Prophets and the Hagiographa, to the Mishnah, 
the Talmud, and even to the Haggadah. 

A very singular anticipatory revelation was believed to 
have been made on Sinai to the prophets. In " Shemoth 
Rabba " we read : " What the prophets were about to pro 
phesy in every generation they receive from Mount Sinai." 
The revelation was apparently made to the souls of those 
about to be created. And so Isaiah is represented as saying : 
" From the day that the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, 
there I was and received this prophecy, and now the Lord 
God and His Spirit have sent me." x 

The Talmud contains a somewhat similar curious teaching 
as regards " Miracles " the course of creation was not dis 
turbed by them, they were all primarily existing, as well as 
pre-ordained. They were " created " at the end of all things, 
in the gloaming of the sixth day. Creation, together with these 
so-called exceptions, once established, nothing could be altered 
in it. The laws of nature went on by their own immutable 
force, however much evil might spring therefrom. 


The wonderful Jewish book the Talmud cannot com 
plain of neglect or of oblivion. Never has any writing in the 
whole human history been so hated and hunted down. It 
has been proscribed and burnt again and again. Before 
the marvellous compilation was fully completed the Emperor 
Justinian, in A.D. 553, condemned it by name. Then for more 
than a thousand years anathemas, edicts of the sternest 
condemnation, were issued against the Jewish sacred volume 
which has done so much for the Chosen People. 

1 " It is evident that some of the dicta of the Rabbis, such as, for instance, 
the above-quoted passages, are not intended to be taken literally, but are 
the paradoxes of idealists, which leave us in some doubt as to how much they 
supposed to have been revealed explicitly to Moses." Pirke Aboth (Sayings 
of the Fathers), note by Dr. Taylor, Master of S. John s, Cambridge, p. 122. 

Dr. Taylor, however, adds that " such statements have to be taken into 
account in estimating the ancient Rabbis views of revelation." 


Emperors, kings, and Popes in all lands and in every age 
have warred against it in each succeeding century. It was 
forbidden, cursed, often publicly burnt. 

To give an average example of the spirit with which it 
was universally condemned by Christians, we would refer 
to a letter of Pope Honorius iv to the Archbishop of Canter 
bury (A.D. 1286), in which he speaks of the Talmud as " that 
damnable Book," desiring him "to see that it is read by no 
one, since all evils flow out of it." 

At last, after it had been put out about 1000 years, in 
the dawn of the Reformation a great Christian scholar arose 
who defended it. Reuchlin, the most eminent Hellenist and 
Hebraist of his time, remonstrated against the wild and ignor 
ant prejudice with which Christian men regarded this wonder 
ful compilation. Long and bitter was the controversy, but 
the patient scholar, although formally condemned for his noble 
advocacy of the great Jewish book, in the end triumphed, 
and the Talmud this time was not burned but printed, and 
since Reuchlin s time has been allowed to live on unmolested. 
In our day and time it has come to be regarded as one of the 
great works of the world, although among Christian folk its 
contents are comparatively unknown ; while its surpassing 
influence in the past is acknowledged in the scholar com 
munity, which recognizes neither land nor race. 

It has been curiously suggested that the Talmud contains 
many of the divine sayings of our Lord recorded in the Gospels. 
The fact really is, that while some few of the beautiful words 
of Christ are without doubt to be found in the Talmud, it is 
only such sayings as are common to other great teachers and 
thinkers, such as Seneca and the Emperor Marcus Antoninus. 
However, it is more than probable that the Child Jesus was 
conversant with some of the more striking maxims of the 
early Rabbis and teachers, such as Hillel and the elder Gamaliel, 
and that occasionally sayings of theirs are repeated in the 
Gospel teaching. But it is beyond all doubt that the general 
spirit of Rabbinism which lives through the pages of the 
Talmud in the Mishnah and Gemara was absolutely at 
variance with the spirit of Jesus Christ and His disciples. 


To take two notable examples the position of women and 
the exclusive position of Israel. The Gospel teaching is 
completely different on the position of women from what we 
find in the authoritative teaching of the Talmud treatises. 
With our Lord the woman was the equal in all respects of the 
man, in this world and in the world to come. 1 The striking 
inferiority of women in Israel is brought forward again and 
again in the sayings of the great Rabbis. We would quote 
a very few of their authoritative Talmudical teachings 
here : 

R. Meir second century (Mishnah) : "A man is bound 
to repeat three benedictions every day." One of these was, 
" Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, who hast not made me a 

And again : " Are not slaves and women in the same 
category ? The slave is more degraded." 

" Blessed is the man whose children are sons, but luckless 
is he whose children are daughters." (Baba Bathra.) 

" The testimony of one hundred women is only equal to 
the evidence of one man." (Yevamoth.) 

The stern exclusiveness of Israel is pressed constantly 
in the Talmud. This is diametrically opposed to the New 
Testament teaching so conclusively formulated by S. Peter 
(Acts x. 34, 35) : "Of a truth I perceive that God is no 
respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him 
and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him." 

While in the Talmud we read 

" Almsgiving exalte th a nation [that is, Israel], . . . but 
benevolence is a sin to nations," that is to say, for the Gentiles 
to exercise charity and benevolence is sin. (Compare Baba 
Bathra, fol. 10, col. 2.) 

And again : " All Israelites have a portion in the world to 
come." (Sanhedrim, fol. 90, col. i.) " The world was created 
only for Israel ; none are called the children of God but 
Israel, none are beloved before God but Israel." (Gerim.) 

1 " For when they shall rise from the dead [men and women are both alluded 
to] ... they are as the angels which are in heaven " (S. Mark xii. 25). The 
prominent position of women in the early Church is asserted in the " Gospels " 
and "Acts"; they never are alluded to as occupying an inferior place. See 
below, p. 380, for a further note on the position of women. 


" Three things did Moses ask of God " : i. " He asked that 
the Shekinah (the glory of God) might rest upon Israel." 

2. " That the Shekinah might rest upon none but Israel." 

3. " That God s ways might be made known unto him : and all 
these requests were granted." (Cf. Berachotk, fol. 7, col. i.) 

Such teachings as these from the Talmud might be multi 
plied indefinitely. 


The influence of the Talmud on Judaism has been measure 

In the second, third, fourth, fifth, and part of the sixth 
centuries which followed the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
Temple, the Rabbinic schools of Palestine and Babylonia, where 
" the great book " was thought out and compiled, became for 
the scattered people new centres, where the old sacred learning 
was not only carried on, but made to shine with a yet greater 
splendour a splendour never possessed in any of the ages 
of its long story. 

And when the Book (the Talmud) was finally completed 
in the sixth century it was recognized throughout the scattered 
Jewish people as having put new life and new meaning into the 
sacred writings, which to a certain extent, especially in the case 
of the Ritual Law, naturally, after the fall of the Temple and the 
Holy City, had lost much of their power and special application. 

Then, as time went on, " the Book " became the strongest 
bond of union between the exiles of the West and East ; be 
tween the Jews of Rome and Constantinople, of Alexandria and 
the distant East. And later, when the old Empire of Rome was 
dissolved and the Teutonic tribes had become masters of the 
Western world, the Talmud was still the bond of union between 
all the Jews of " the Dispersion " through the Middle Ages. 

Thus the Talmud has for centuries been the link which 
has welded into one great people all the scattered Jewish race. 
For every professing Jew has felt that the great compilation 
embodied all the ancient cherished traditions of the people, and 
was persuaded that the Talmud in some respects was equal to 


the Bible, especially as a source of instruction and decision in 
the problems of religion. 

It has preserved and fostered for some fifteen hundred 
years in the " Dispersion " that spirit of deep religion and 
strict morality which has kept the Jewish people separate and 
intact ; and be it remembered under the most unfavourable 
external conditions, for, with certain rare exceptions, since the 
days of the Emperor Constantine and the victory of Chris 
tianity the Jew has been generally hated, despised, persecuted, 
an exile and a wanderer over the face of the earth. 

In the Jewish race the study of the Talmud has awakened 
and stimulated intellectual activity in an extraordinary 
degree. Its study has given to the world of letters a vast 
number of scholars, men of the loftiest character, belonging 
to the first rank of philosophers and writers, whose works, 
limited though they mostly are by the Rabbinic area of 
thought and speculation, have been of high service to civiliza 

Among these great ones issuing from the Jews of no one 
land, and who form a numerous band, it is difficult in this 
brief study to particularize even the most distinguished, 
but the following names will at once occur to any competent 
scholar as prominent examples of famous men of the Rabbinic 
school, whose works have shed real light on the so-called dark 
mediaeval period : 

Raschi . . A.D. circa 1040-1105 
Maimonides . ,, ,, 1135-1204 
D. Kimchi . . 1158-1235 

The names, however, of distinguished scholars and writers 
of the Rabbinic school who have arisen during the last fifteen 
centuries in different lands might be multiplied almost in 

And this people is with us still, more influential, probably 
more numerous, than at any period of its immemorial history. 
The numbers at the present day are variously computed as 
amounting to from seven to eleven millions. 



But not only among the Jewish peoples of the " Dispersion " 
has this strange and wonderful book exercised a surpassing 
influence, but even among the Christian nations of the world 
has its spirit percolated, and in a remarkable way has in 
fluenced and coloured certain important phases of religious 
thought and belief. 

Among Christian peoples the Talmud is virtually unknown ; 
to well-nigh every individual in the Christian nations it is but 
the shadow of a name, to the great majority scarcely even that ; 
and yet the profound, the awful reverence for the Old Testa 
ment Scriptures which lives among all Christian folk, a reverence 
that often shades into a passionate love, though they guess 
it not, springs largely out of the teachings of that great Rabbinic 
book the Talmud, the very name of which so many have 
scarcely heard. 

For the Mishnah and Gemara which make up the Talmud, 
the thousand treatises which have been written by learned 
Rabbis at different periods during the last sixteen hundred 
years of the Jewish Dispersion, are simply all comments upon, 
explanations and developments of traditions and history 
bearing upon the Old Testament Scriptures, the one precious 
heritage of the Jew handed down from generation to generation 
of the Chosen People from time immemorial. 

This story of the changeless love of the Hebrew race for 
their ancient writings and records, which the Jew is never 
weary of reiterating, came to him direct from God Almighty, 
and has found an echo in unnumbered Christian hearts, and 
so it has come to pass that the Old Testament Scriptures the 
Torah (the Law) of Moses, the Prophets, and the other sacred 
books are received to this day with a deep reverential love 
as the expression of the will of the Eternal of Hosts, alike in 
Christian Churches as in the Jewish Synagogues. 1 

1 Renan recognizes the service rendered by the Talmudical Rabbis to 
Christianity, but while acknowledging this, curiously limits it to the preserva 
tion of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament Scriptures, which he thinks 
would probably have been lost but for the labours of the Rabbis of the Talmud 
he characterizes tliis as " un service du i er ordre." To him the Hebrew 



Before closing this little sketch of the Talmud and of 
the very early Rabbinical writings, it will be well to give 
a somewhat more detailed explanation of one of its more 
important features, which we have already somewhat lightly 
touched upon the " Haggadah." 

It is not too much to say that the widespread, the lasting 
popularity of the mighty book the Talmud is largely 
owing to this special kind of exposition, which includes the 
Historical, the Legendary, the Homiletical, and the Comforting. 
It is absolutely peculiar to the Talmud ; there is nothing 
resembling it in the official or acknowledged writings belonging 
to any other religious system. 

In the Exile and in the lengthened period which directly 
followed the Exile, i.e. in the five centuries which intervened 
between the " Return from the Exile " and the Christian era, 
the Chosen People had learned, as we have noticed, to love 
their Scriptures with a great love, a love that may be termed a 
passion. It was then that the sacred books became, and for 
long centuries remained, the centre of their lives. The study 
of these books, the study which included research, investigation, 
exposition, application to every event in their lives, to every 
possible contingency which might happen to them, is known as 

Legendary history which clustered round the events 
related in the sacred books, details not chronicled in the text 
of the books, but carefully treasured up, preserved and handed 
down, circumstances more or less interesting and important 
connected with the lives of the principal Biblical personages, 
were gradually gathered together, were carefully sifted out 
and discussed by the scribes and doctors of the law, and if 
finally received as authentic by the great Jewish teachers, 

Old Testament is an incomparable monument of history, archaeology, 
and philology. The deeper signification of these sacred records, which 
in the hearts of earnest Christians constitutes their exceeding preciousness, 
finds little place, alas, in the cheerless conception of the brilliant French 


were written down 1 and handed on from generation to 

This work and study especially connected with the non- 
legal portions of the Scriptures known as " Haggadah," 
certainly received a mighty impulse in the times of the Scribes 
before the Christian era, and reached its highest develop 
ment in the famous Academies of Palestine and Babylonia 
which arose after the events of A.D. 70. We may roughly 
compute this great period of the development of the " Hag 
gadah " as reaching from A.D. 72-100 to A.D. 500 or 550. The 
creative Haggadic activity may be said to have ceased after 
this last date. 

Although " Haggadic " notices or comments appear not 
unfrequently in the exclusively legal section of the Penta 
teuch, they belong more especially to those Scriptures which 
treat of history, narrative, and teaching including, of course, 
the prophetic writings. In the first instance the " Haggadic " 
Midrash confined itself to the simple exposition of the Scripture 
text, but it very soon developed into comments of a very 
varied nature, not unfrequently into homilies inculcating 
religious truths and moral maxims, into disquisitions on the 
past and future glories of Israel ; roughly speaking, the " Hag 
gadah on a passage or section of the canonical Scriptures 
endeavoured, by penetrating beneath the mere literal sense, to 
arrive at the spirit of the Scripture in question. In the Talmud 
(Sanhedrim Treatise) it has been well compared to a hammer 
which awakens the slumbering sparks of a rock. 

Legendary additions, of course, form an important part of 
the Haggadah, but these ancient traditions or legends by no 
means, as some suppose, constitute the bulk of this vast and 
wonderful commentary on the canonical or acknowledged 

Among the sources where we find this curious Biblical 
literature which has been a very important link in the Talmud 

1 While it is generally acknowledged that the decisions arrived at in con 
nection with the Law of Moses termed " Halachah " were transmitted orally, 
certainly until the time of R. Judah the Holy, known as Rabbi (end of second 
century), the " Haggadic " decisions here alluded to were committed to 
writing at a much earlier date. 


chain which has been the great bond of union of the scattered 
Jewish race for so many centuries, of course primarily must be 
reckoned the Mishnah and the two Gemaras, the Palestinian 
and the Babylonian, which constitute the Talmud. Here are 
found many of those " Haggadic " comments which naturally 
are regarded with the deepest reverence, as they have received 
the seal of approval of the doctors of the great Academies of 
Sura, Pumbaditha, and Tiberias, who flourished in the early 
centuries of the Christian era. 

But there are " Haggadic " notices of great antiquity and 
in still larger numbers preserved in writings which form the 
non-canonical Mishnah, works subsidiary and auxiliary to the 
Mishnah proper, some of which even date from the second and 
third century or even earlier, and have ever possessed among 
the learned Jews a very high authority. For example, in the 
Targums (Targumim) are very many pieces of an " Haggadic " 
nature, not a few evidently of a remote antiquity and of the 
highest interest. 

It is, of course, impossible in the limits of such a brief sketch 
of so vast a subject to give any adequate illustration of this vast 
collection of Haggadah ; we will simply quote two or three 
examples taken from the Palestine Targum on the Torah on 
the Book of Deuteronomy, where the original text is expanded 
by words of tradition or legend, by homiletics, by words of 
teaching, of comfort and encouragement. 

From the Palestine Targum on the Torah (Deuteronomy 
chap, xxxiii.). " And he (Moses) said : The Lord was revealed 
at Sinai to give the law unto His people of Beth Israel, and 
the splendour of the glory of His Shekinah arose from Gebal 
to give itself to the sons of Esau ; but they received it not. 
It shined forth in majesty and glory from Mount Pharan, to 
give itself to the sons of Ishmael ; but they received it not. 
It returned and revealed itself in holiness unto His people of 
Israel, and with Him ten thousand times ten thousand holy 
angels. He wrote with His own right hand, and gave them 
His law and His commandments, out of the flaming fire." 

" And he saw at the beginning that a place had been 


prepared there for a sepulchre, a place strewn with precious 
stones and pearls, where Mosheh the prophet, the scribe of 
Israel, was to be hidden, (who) as he went in and out at the 
head of the people in this world, so will he go in and out in 
the world to come ; because he wrought righteousness before 
the Lord, and taught the orders of the judgments to the sons 
of Israel." 

There is no God like the God of Israel, whose Shekinah 
and Chariot dwell in the heavens. He will be your helper. 
He sitteth on His glorious throne in His majesty, in the expanse 
of the heavens above. The habitation of Eloha is from 
eternity ; by the arm of His power beneath the world is up 
borne. He will scatter your adversaries before you, and will 
say by His Word, Destroy them. And Israel shall dwell 
safely as of old according to the benediction with which Jakob 
their father did bless them, for whose righteousness sake He 
will cause them to inherit the good land that yieldeth corn and 
wine ; the heavens also above them will drop with the dews 
of blessing and the rains of loving-kindness. Happy are you, 
O Israel : who of all the nations are like you, a people saved 
in the Name of the Word of the Lord ? He is the shield of 
your help, and His sword, the strength of your excellency." 

From Deuteronomy chap, xxxiv. " Blessed be the Name 
of the Lord of the world, who hath taught us His- righteous 
way. He hath taught us to clothe the naked, as He clothed 
Adam and Hava (Eve) ; He hath taught us to unite the 
bridegroom and the bride in marriage, as He united Hava (Eve) 
to Adam. He hath taught us to visit the sick, as He revealed 
Himself to Abraham when he was ill from being circumcised ; 
He hath taught us to console the mourners, as He revealed 
Himself again to Jakob when returning from Padan in the 
place where his mother had died. He hath taught us to feed 
the poor, as He sent Israel bread from heaven ; He hath 
taught us to bury the dead by (what He did for) Mosheh ; 
for He revealed Himself in His Word, and with Him the 
companies of ministering angels : Michael and Gabriel spread 
forth the golden bed, fastened with chrysolites, gems, and 



beryls, adorned with hangings of purple silk, and satin, and 
white linens. Metatron, Jophiel, and Uriel, and Jephephya, 
the wise sages, laid him upon it, and by His Word conducted 
him four miles, and buried him in the valley opposite Beth 
Peor ; that Israel, as oft as they look up to Peor, may have 
the memory of their sin ; and at the sight of the burying-place 
of Mosheh may be humbled ; but no man knoweth his sepulchre 
unto this day." 

A* P 

He, watch-ing o - ver Is - ra - el, slum-bers not, nor sleeps. 
(From Mendelssohn s Oratorio, " Elijah.") 


We would add a few words further explanatory of the 
Halachah. The Halachic Midrash (or exegesis and develop 
ment of the passages of the Law) dealt with the exact purport 
of the various Divine commands contained in the Torah, or 
Law of Moses. It explained in detail how these precepts were 
to be carried out in common life. It professed to be nothing 
more than an exposition of the original Law ; but in reality 
it contained vast additions to what was written in the Books 
of Moses, and claimed to possess an equal authority with the 
original charges contained in the Pentateuch. 

Roughly, these so-called Halachic developments were 
divided into three classes or categories 

1. Halachah or commands traced back to Moses. 

2. A great mass of Halachah containing traditional 

ordinances professedly based on the original Mosaic 
commands, but in reality connected with the Mosaic 
ordinances by the very slightest of ties. 

3. A number of enactments really only emanating from 

the schools of the Scribes, but which were taught to 
be equally binding with the original Pentateuch 
ordinances. These Halachah largely dated from 
the years which preceded the Christian era ; they 
were, in the last half of the first century and during 
the second century, codified and arranged in the 

The general purport of the Halachic Midrash, which con 
tains the rule of Israelitic life and which so long occupied the 
Scribes and their schools, was very largely connected in the 
first place with the elaborate network of sacrifice, and the 

usages which followed and preceded the many and complicated 



various offerings. The Halachah might fairly be called The 
Law and Rule of Jewish Ritual. Its subject-matter has been 
well and tersely summed up as follows : The Halachic 
Midrash sought to establish, by laws which were absolutely 
binding on every true Jew, the manner in which God desires 
to be honoured ; what sacrifices are to be offered to Him, 
what feasts and fasts are to be kept in His honour, and gener 
ally what religious rites are to be observed by the people. 
Other questions are, however, discussed and resolved in the 
Halachah, but these other points fill after all a comparatively 
small space in the great legal commentary or ritual which 
occupies so important a place in the vast Talmud compilation. 


The writer of the foregoing " study " feels that a sadly 
incomplete picture of the " Haggadah," the popular division 
of the Talmud, has been painted. A few more remarks on 
this singular and important portion of the Talmud are given 
by way of further elucidation of this strange form of exegesis 
(Midrash) of the Holy Scriptures. 

We have already stated that broadly the " Halachic " 
Midrash or exegesis belongs especially to the Books of the 
Pentateuch, and the " Haggadic " Midrash rather to the 
other Books of the Old Testament writings. 

But even in the Pentateuch, narrative and history occupy 
a wide space, and in the Pentateuch Midrash we find too a 
mass of Haggadic commentary on the narrative and historic 
portions of the five Books of Moses. 

Here the " Book of Jubilees " (century i) may be quoted 
as a striking instance of early Haggadic Midrash or exegesis 
of Scripture. It reproduces the Book of Genesis, and curi 
ously amplifies and largely supplements the original text. 

Dwelling on the history of Creation, the Haggadic scribe 
tells us how " in the twilight on the evening before the first 
Sabbath, ten things were created (i) The chasm in the 
earth, in which Korah and his company were swallowed up. 
(2) The opening of Miriam s well. (3) The mouth of Balaam s 
ass. (4) The Rainbow. (5) The Manna of the Wilderness. 


(6) The famous Shamir, the worm which splits stones, tradi 
tionally used in the making of the Tabernacle and its furniture. 

(7) The Rod of Moses. (8) Alphabetic writing. (9) The writ 
ing of the Tables of the Law. (10) The stone tables on which 
the Ten Commandments were written." 

The devout student of the Old Testament will read with 
deep interest the above-quoted reference to the purely Hag- 
gadic passage taken from the " Book of Jubilees," in which an 
allusion is made to the ass who reproved Balaam. 

This is one of the recitals in the Old Testament Scriptures 
which has ever, for various reasons, been a difficulty, when 
regarded as a piece of actual history. Its appearance in the 
" Book of Jubilees " among other evidently Haggadic or purely 
legendary amplifications of the original text, suggests that 
even in the Pentateuch the inspired compiler has occasionally 
introduced in his narrative details which in the opinion of the 
very early Scribes belonged evidently to the realm of 
Haggadah or legend. 

In the Haggadah of the Pentateuch a vast cycle of legends 
accompanies the original Genesis account of famous heroes 
of Israelitic history, such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, 
and Aaron. 

A good specimen of Haggadic legendary amplification is 
given above in the extract from the Jerusalem Targum on 
Deut. xxxiv., where the death of Moses and the circumstances 
attending his burial are related. Again, one of the canonical 
writings of the Old Testament, the Book of Chronicles, is a fair 
example of the less fanciful Haggadic historical Midrash. Here 
the compiler of the book in question adds to the original 
record of the Jewish kings a number of details not found in 
the Books of Kings and in the older histories of Israel. 

The Haggadah specially enlarges at great length, and with 
much detail, the passages which even remotely refer to the 
future, to the angels, and to the heavenly world ; it amplifies 
all the mystic sections which deal with the glory of the Eternal, 
such as the " chariot " of Ezekiel, that wonderful introductory 
vision of his great prophecy. 

Even in the New Testament Epistles and in the " Acts," 
Haggadic influence is noticeable in several well-known pas- 


sages ; for instance, in S. Paul s 2nd Epistle to Timothy iii. 8, 
the names of the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres, 
which do not appear in the Genesis history, are given. A still 
more remarkable example of Haggadic influence is the singular 
legendary account of the Rock in i Cor. x. 4, where the rock 
from which, at Moses bidding, the water gushed forth is repre 
sented as positively accompanying the Irsaelites during their 
desert wanderings. Again, in Acts vii. 53, Gal. iii. 19, Heb. ii. 2, 
the Law is represented, not as given to Moses by God Himself, 
as related in the Pentateuch, but as reaching him through the 
medium of angels. 



Among the disabilities of the women 1 of Israel nothing is 
more remarkable than the position they occupied in the public 
services of the congregation. The Inner Court of the Temple, 
within which the whole of the official \vorship was celebrated 
was divided by a wall into two divisions a Western and ar 
Eastern. The latter (the Eastern) the more remote from the 
Temple proper was called " the Court of the Women," not 
however because none but women were admitted to it, but 
because women as well as men were allowed to enter it. 

The Western division was reserved exclusively for men ; in 
this division stood the Temple proper, including the Holy 
Place and the Holy of Holies. 

In front of the Temple, to the West, stood the great altar 
of burnt-offering, at which, except in the matter of incense- 
burning, every act of sacrifice had to be performed. In this 
Western division of the Inner Court the victims were 
slaughtered. The Temple itself with the great altar of burnt- 
offering was again surrounded by an enclosure, within which 
as a rule none but priests might enter. This enclosure was 
sometimes called the Court of the Priests. 

The men of Israel, however, being admitted into the 
Western division of the Inner Court, were spectators of and 
so assisted at the sacrifices offered on the great altar, from 
which they were only separated by the enclosure into which, 
however, in certain circumstances, they were admitted. 

But the women were never allowed to enter the Western 
division of the Inner Court never might pass the wall of separa 
tion never as it were assist at the sacrifices and the solemn 
ritual of the great altar which stood at the Western entrance 
of the Temple. 

T See on page 367 for further details on the position held by women in Israel. 



" ABOTH," treatise, 358 w. I 

Acilii Glabriones family, Crypt of, 265, 
267, 268-9, 270-1 ; was 
Pudens a member of? 270 

Acilius Glabrio, Consul, martyrdom 
of, 41-2, 230-1, 269 

Acta Sincera, of Ruinart, on Martyrdom 
of Theban legion, 148 n. I 

Acts of the Apostles, Haggadic influence 
seen in, 379 ; model of, 72 ; 
on Christian assemblies, 
107 ; on S. Paul s prison 
life at Rome, 22 ; on status 
of women, 367 n. I 

Acts of S. Cecilia, in the light of cata 
comb discoveries, 289 et seq. 

Acts of S. Hermes, 274 

Acts of Martyrdom, or Acts and Passions 
of the Martyrs, archaeo 
logical and literary corro- 
boration of, 81, 82, 94 CT. I 
Critical estimates of, 81 &nn., 82, 


Few in early days, 33, 35, 48, 53 
Pagan contempt shewn in, 158 
Value of, in exploring Cata 
combs, 226 

on Numbers of Christians, 104 
on Persecutions, 163 

Acts of the Martyred Slaves, 136 

Acts of the Passion of S. f elicit as, 299 ; 
authenticity of, 300, 304 

Acts of Pastor and Timotheus, tradi 
tion in, on Pudens and his 
family, 263-5 

Acts of S. Valentinus, 276 

^Elia Capitolina, site of, 77 ; insults at, 
to Christians, 78 ; results of 
building, 332, 335-6 et seq. 

/Elius Verus, adopted by Hadrian, 83 

/Eneas, piety of, 87 

/Eneid, teaching of, 88 

Africa (see Carthage, see also Egypt), 

Christian congregations in, 

mid-second century, 36 

Agaunum (S. Maurice), Martyrdom 

legend concerning, 148 n. I 

Agrippa, builder of Pantheon por 
tico, 280 

Akiba, Rabbi, eminence of, and of his 

pupils, 337, 354-6 
Fate of, 355 &> n. I 
Supporter of Bar-cochab, 78, 336-7 
on Massorah, 362 n. I 

Alcuin, 278 

Aldus Manutius, supporting Pliny s 
letter, 46 

Alemanni, death of, 283 

Alexander, son of S. Felicitas, tomb 
of, 259 

Alexandria, Jewish revolts in, 330, 
334~5> 346 5 literary support 
from, of Petrine tradition, 
10, 13 ; plague of, 155 n. 2 

Alexandrian-Jewish influences in Re 
velation of S. John, 72 

Allard, , on Acilius Glabrio, 269 ; on 
Archaeology as rehabilitating 
legend, 289 ; on Jewish 
fecundity, first century, in 
Rome, 5 . I ; on the Jews 
in the Augustan age, 4 ; 
on Nero s persecution and 
popular disgust, 42 n. 2 ; 
on the Martyrdom of the 
Theban legion, 148 n. I ; 
on Pliny s letter, 46 ; on 
S. Peter s arrival in Rome, 
ign. i ; on Trajan s person 
ality, 48 

Translation by, of the Epitaph of 
Pope Damasus, 215 n. I 

Almsgiving, in the early Church, 113, 
119-22, 123, 130 et seq., 
138, 139 

America, Civil War of, cause of, 135 n. I 

Amoraim, the, 345, 358 n. I, 359 

Amphitheatre games, horrors of, 50 ; 
Martyrdoms in, no, 172, 
175-6 ; training of Christians 
for, 198 

Ampliatus, Chapel or Crypt of, Domi- 

tilla Cemetery, 240 
Tomb of, identification of, 241-2 



Anacletus, Pope, cemetery of, 287 ; 
discoveries in, seventeenth 
century, 280 et seq. 
Memoriae erected by, over tombs of 
SS. Peter and Paul, 233, 
237, 281 efsey. 

Ananias and Sapphira, gift of, volun 
tary, 1 20 n. i 

Anchor, as Christian Emblem, 310 

Angels, Haggadic references to, 378, 379 

Animals, wild, in amphitheatre games, j 
exposure to, of Christians, j 
&c., 175-6, 178, 183, 185, 
187, 191, 203, 204, 269 

Anniversaries of Martyrs, first cele- | 
brated, 35 

Antioch (see a/so Ignatius), literary 
support from, of Petrine 
tradition, 9, 13 

Antipas, martyr, 169 

Antonines, the (see also Antoninus Pius 
and Marcus Aurelius), reigns 
of, 63, characteristics of, 84 
et seq. ; table of succession 
of, 83 

Antonins, Les, by De Champagny, on 
Hadrian s character, 77 ;;. I ; 
on the number of Jews 
slain in the last wars, 338 
dr n. 2 

Antoninus Pius, 186, 277, adopted by, 
and successor to, Hadrian, 
83, family and character of, 
83, 84, 85 

Attitude of, to Christians, 158, ignor 
ance of their faith, 77 
Coinage of, 87, 90 
Persecutions by, and reasons for, 33, 
80, 81, 84, 91-3, 95, 137, 
163 . 2, 194, 207 
Relations of, with Hadrian, 83, 85 

Apocalypse of S. John, 72 ; place of, in 
early Christian thought, 156- 
7 ; references in, to Perse 
cution, 37, 157, 165, 167-70 

Apologies, The, of Justin Martyr, 

128, 184 

on Assemblies, 108, 113-4 
on Persecution, 185-6 

Apology of Aristides, on Burial of the 
dead by Christians, 132, 
133 ; on Christian charity, 
124 &n. i, 126, 130, 138 ; 
on Christians as civil judges, 
148 ; on Hospitality, 128, on 
Slavery, 135 

Apology, or Embassy, of Athenagoras, 
on Persecution, 188-9 

Apology of Tertullian, and the Octavius 
of Minucius Felix, 186 

Apostasy, encouraged by Roman rulers, 
I 95> 197 J Hermas on, 181 ; 
results of, 197, 203 ; some 
causes, 201 

Apostolical Constitutions, The, on 
Almsgiving, 122 ; on Hos 
pitality, 128 

Apostolic Fathers, writings of, cast in 
Letter form, 73 

Apostolic Fathers, by Lightfoot, cited on 
Pliny s Letters, 46 n. I ; 
on S. Hippolytus, 251 

Apostolic remains, authors and form 
f> 73 > characteristics and 
special value of, ib., meant 
for publication, 74 Sfn. I 

Apronienus, catacomb of, 248 

Aquila and Priscilla, associations of, 
with S. Paul, and with 
Pudens, 265-6 ; burial-place 
of, 262, 266; church 
founded by, 262 

Arch of Titus, witness of, 333 &>n. I 

Archaeological Relics of S. Peter, Chair, 
and place of baptism, 12 

Archaeology, witness of, to literature 
and tradition (see also Cata 
combs), 17, 19 n. i, Si, 82, 
108, 147, 152 n. i, 209 et 
seq., 289, 295, 298, 304 
to Pagan and Christian views on 

Death, 154-5 

to Social Status of many early 
Christians, 111-2 

Arenaria, in Jordani catacomb, 260 

Aristides, see Apology of, supra 

Aristotle, works of, 146 

Aries, Church of S. Hippolytus at, 255 

Armellini, Prof., on Inscription con 
cerning S. Agnes, 256-7 ; 
Ubaldi s memoranda pub 
lished by, 281 ; work of, in 
Catacomb exploration, 239 

Army, Christians in, 148 cr. i 

Arnold, Matthew, on the Good Shep 
herd with the Kid, 320 

Arsacius, Letter to, from Emperor 
Julian, on Christian char 
acteristics, 12377. i, 128, 131 

Arval Brotherhood, College of, 236 ; 
M. Aurelius a member, 
95 . i 

Asia, Christian congregations in, mid- 
second century, 36 

Asia Minor (see also Antioch, &c.), 71 
Christianity in ( see also Pliny s Letter), 
founder, and effects on 
Paganism, and spread of, 

5i 107 
S. John s prominence in, 9 



Assemblies, Christian, composition of, 

110-12, 113, 114, 240, 242 

Importance of, 101, evidenced in 

literary references, 107-9 
Joy in, 155 

Places where held (see also Cata 
combs), 139 
Proceedings at, various writers cited, 

113 et seq. 

References to, in N.T. and later 
writers,Christian and Pagan, 
107 et seq. 
Sunday, 108, observance of, Justin 

Martyr on, 113-4 

Teaching, doctrines and ritual at, 101, 
113 et seq., 124, 126, 
128-30, 131-3, 138, 139 

Astolphus, 293 

Athenagoras, 319 n. i, on Persecu- : 
tions, 188-9 

Attire, Rigourist teaching on, I53~4 

Aube, on the Acts of S. Felicitas, 300 ; | 
on Domitian s persecution, 
42 n. 2 \ on Trajan s Re 
script, 49 

Augustus Caesar, 9 1 , 280 ; attitude of, to j 
Imperial cultus, 42 ; favour j 
shown by, to the Jews, 3 ; j 
and the source of Rome s 
greatness, 88, 89 

Ausonius, poems of, 64 

Autolycus, letters or books to, from Theo- , 
philusof Antioch, 108-9, 189 

Auvergne, 66 

Aventine Hill, church on, 262 ; house, 
&c., of Pudens on, 12, 15 

Avitus, made Emperor, 65 

BABA-BATHRA treatise, in the : 

Talmud, 343 ;/. I 

Babylon, mystic name for Rome, 8, 10, 14 
Babylonia (see also Exile), Jews in, 346 I 
Rabbinic Schools of, 326, 362-3, 

368, 373 
Chief, 358 n. i 

Mode of teaching in, 357, 358-60 
Work of, 344, 345, 346, 372 
Babylonian Gemara, the, 356 & n. 4 
Talmud, the, 345, Haggadic notices 

in, 358 n. I 

Baix, death at, of Hadrian, 83 
Balaam and his ass, Haggadah on, 377, i 


Balbina, tomb of, 247 
Baptisteries (see also Wells) in Cata- \ 
combs of Pontianus, and 
S. Priscilla, 236 

Baptistery of S. Peter, site of, identified 
by Manicchi, 12, 257, 267, i 

Barberini (Pope Urban vm), epigram 

on, 280 
Bar-cochab, false Messiah, cause of 

last war of the Jews, 336-7 ; 

his Rabbinical supporters, 

78, 336-7, 354, 355 
Barnabas, Epistle of, see Epistles 
Barnes, , cited on Neronic burning 
of Christians, 285-6 ; on 
S. Peter s tomb, 281 & n. 
et seq. 

Baronius, Cardinal, 263, present at 
finding of S. Cecilia s 
body, 294 &. I, 297 ; on 
S. Petronilla, 277 
Basil of Cappadocian Qesarea, 138 
Basilicas : 
of S. Lawrence "ad Corpus," Popes 

buried in, 250 
Domitilla, 278 
Prretextatus, 247 
SS. Hermes and Basilissa, 274-5 
in Coemeterium Majus, subterran 
ean, 258 
in Rome, third century number and 

appointments of, 112 
Ruined, crypts beneath, 228 
of S. Agnes, 256-7 
of S. Cecilia, 292, 293 et seq. 
of S. Felicitas, 302 
of S. Hippolytus, 251, 254 
of S. Laurence, 250, 254 
of S. Sylvester, burials in, 266 & 

n. i, 272 

When and why erected, 272 
Benson, Archbishop, on S. Cyprian, 

122 &n. i, 127 n. i 
Bernini, Baldachino by, in S. Peter s, 
discoveries on erection of, 
233 ;/. i, 2Soetsetj. 
Bethel, the old prophet of, 321 
Bethia, Zealot head-quarters, 336 
" Billicum confessionis," nature of, 

that of S. Peter, 237, 282 
Bishops and Popes of Rome (see under 
Names), claim to be suc 
cessors of S. Peter, un 
disputed, 16 

Catalogues of, on date of Linus s 
accession, 14 ; to Eleu- 
therius, 15 
Early, buried around S. Peter, see 

Papal Crypt 
Bithynia and Pontus, 57, 58, 62 

Christians in (see also Pliny s letter), 

27, 3 2 , 35"- 1, 45^ seg>, 
50, 7i, 75, 77, 103 &n. 2, 
no, 177 

Bliss, instant, after Death, Christian 
hope of, 1 56 


" Book of Jubilees," subject-matter of, 
377, 378 

Borghesi, Cardinal, 300, re-interment 
by, of S. Sebastian, 244 

Bosio, , pioneer of Catacomb explor 
ation, 223-4 ; present at 
discovery of S. Cecilia s 
body, 294 cbw. I, 297 

Bourges, mention at, of S. Petronilla 
as S. Peter s daughter, 278 

Brescia, relics of S. Hippolytus 
at, 255 

Brotherhood character of early Chris 
tianity, 38, 122-3, 2 70 

Builders, of Basilicas, &c., injury done 
by, to Catacombs, 250, 257 

Burial customs, Jewish, Christian, and I 
Pagan, 4, 5, 131-3, 264 

Bury St. Edmunds, cult of S. Pet 
ronilla in, 278 

CECILIAN family, the, Christians and 
martyrs of, burial-place of, j 
245, 291, 296-7 erw. I 

Caecilius, pagan interlocutor in I 
Octavins of Minucius Felix, 
146, 1 86 ; arguments of, 
source of, 145 ; contempt 
of, for Christians, 158; on 
Christian love, 119, 129 

C. Aurelius, Censor, 233 

Caius, Bishop or Pope of Rome, burial- 
place of, identified, 231 ; 
martyred relationsof, 259;;. I 

Caius, Presbyter, 282 ; on the 
Memorise of the Apostles 
in Rome, n 

Caligula, Emperor, and the Imperial 
cultus, 42 n. I 

Callistus, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 
and martyr, once a slave, 
136 n. i 

Cemetery or Catacomb of, 234, 236-7, 
239, 240, 242, 244-6, 
251, 261 

Inscription of Damasus once in, 
on numbers of martyrs, 
215 d^w. I 

Papal burial-place (</. .), 231, 
245-6, 273 

Callistus group of Catacombs, 212 

Carthage, Church of (see also 
S. Cyprian), aid from, to 
other Churches, 131 
Literary support from, of Petrine 

tradition, 10-11, 13 
Plague at, charity of S. Cyprian 
and his flock during, 123 
. I, 127 

" Catacombas, ad," sec S. Sebastian 

Catacombs or Cemeteries, see also 
under Names of Saints, 
drY., and under Via, and 
see Inscriptions, Itineraries, 
and Translation 
Decorations of, deductions from, 133, 

147, 219, 220, 221 

Exploration of 

beginning, 223 <Sr" n. I 

progress, 224 et seq. 

results, 219, 220-1, 224, 225, 

230 et seq. 
Workers, see Bosio, De Rossi, 

Marchi, Marucchi 
Extent and content of, 133 et scq. t 

220, 233 et seq. 
Jewish burials in, 4 
Literature bearing on, 209-14, 226-8 
Number of, De Rossi on, 232 
Origin of, in general, 38 
Rediscovery of, 223 6 n. I, 244 
Restorations of, by Pope Damasus, 

152 . I 
Teaching in, passim ; on Death, 


Three oldest, 266 
Tombs in, passim 
Uses of, 133, 139, 220 et alibi 

for worship, 118, 253, 258 
Witness of, to Acts of Martyrs, 8 1, 82 
to Christ, 308, 310, 311, 316-20 

& nn. 

to Early Christian history and 

tradition, 105, III-2, 133, 

163 n. I, 209, et seq. 219-21 

Catalogues of Roman Bishops on date 

of Linus s accession, 14 
Celestinus, Pope, burial-place of, 272 
Cemeteries (see also Catacombs), 

Christian names for, 155 
Cerinthian heresy, 23 ;/. I 
Chair of S. Peter, long shown, 12 
Charity among Jews in Rome, 4 
Charlemagne, 278 
Christ, Sayings of, 366 

Teaching of, contrasted with 

Talmudic, 366-8 

With a Kid, Tertullian on, 319; 

M. Arnold s verses on, 320 

Witness to, of the Catacombs, 308, 

310, 311, 316-20 <r. 
Christian Institutions, by Dean Stanley, 
on the Good Shepherd, 
318 &n. i, 319 n. i 
Christian, name treated as crime, 39, 

189, 191 
Relatives of Emperors, no, 112, 148, 

240, 241 

Religion, powerful factor in spread 
of, 102-3 



Christian (contimted) 

Testimony to spread of Christianity, 
in the New Testament and 
after, 107-9 
Unity, its double bond of Doctrine 

and Love, 118-9 
Writers, early, on Numbers of 

Christians, 101, 208, words 

cited, 103-6 
on Persecutions, &c., 36, 37, 81, 82, 

163-5, 166-7, 177-91, 208; 

words cited, 103-6 

Christianity, see also Martyrs, Persecu 
tions, &c. 
Early, connection of, with 

Judaism, 325 
Growth of, 37 et seq., 107, 150 

&n. I, 151 
Importance to, of history of the Jews 

after the last Wars, 326 

et seq. 
of the Talmud, 326, 327, 348, 

370 &n. I 
Influence on, of Rabbinical studies, 

Menace of, to Judaism after the 

Dispersion, 355 
Roman view of, after Jewish War of 

Extermination, 78, 79, So 
Christians, see Pliny s letter, see also 

Idol-worship, Incense, and 

Accused of burning Rome, 27, and 

burned by Nero, 28-9 
Classes composing, 101, 110-12, 148, 

240, 241, 291, 296-70 6 

n. i, 299, 307-8 
Discriminated from Jews, 27, 30, 

92, 164, 341 

Expelled from Rome by Claudius, 25 
Fanatics among, 97 
Guerdon of the faith of, 1 54 et seq. 
Jewish opposition to, in Rome, 18 
Life of, in early days, 33-7, 101 

etseq., 78-81, 1 40 et seq. 
Numbers of, and of Martyrs (q.v,), 

28, 46.i, 53,215; witnesses 

to, 82 6n. i, 101, 103-6 
Schools of teaching among, two, 101 
Christology of the Catacombs, 220 ; of 

S. Paul, 23-4 

Chronicles, Book of, Haggadic expan 
sion of, 378 
Church calendars, Martyrs first 

mentioned in, 208 
Church, The, in the Empire, cited, 

see under Ramsay 
Church of the Propaganda, 

S. Hyacinthus s remains 

in, 275 


Church of Rome (see also Rome, 
Christians in, &c.), early 
importance of, 16, 17 
Cicero, the first great letter-writer, 
epistolary style of, 67, 71 ; 
fashion set by, 56-7, 58, 64 ; 
period of, 56 ; popularity 
of, 69 
on the Jews in Rome, 3 ; on Slaves, 1 34 

Circumcision forbidden to Jews in 
Rome, 335 

Civil service, Christians in, 144, 145, 

Civil War, U.S.A., causes of, 135 . I 

Claudian, poems of, 64 

Claudius, Emperor, 235, expulsion by, 
of Jews, from Rome, 8, 18, 
25 ; S. Peter at Rome 
during reign of, u, 12, 14 

Claudius Gothicus, Emperor, martyrs in 
reign of, 262, 276 

Clement of Alexandria, 179 ; teaching 
of, 138; writings by, see 
Picdagogus ; cited in support 
of Petrine tradition, 10, 13; 
on Christians living in the 
world, 146 ; on Christians 
of wealth, in frn. 1 

Clement vin, Pope, and the find 
ing of S. Cecilia s body, 
294, 297 ; and S. Peter s 
tomb, 282 

Clermont, Sidonius Apollinaris, bishop 
of, 66 

Clitumnus fountain, Pliny s description 
of, 60 

"Clivium Cucumeris, ad," Catacomb 
so called, 275 

Codex Sinaiticus, The Shepherd of 
Hermas included in, 179-80 

Ccelian Hill, church on, Saints buried 
in, 249 

"Ccemeterium Majus," chief interest 
of, and other names of, 
255, 257-8 ; subterranean 
church in, 258 

Ccemeterium Ostrianum, 255, 257, 271 

" Cognitiones," the, 43, 50 

Cologne, relics of S. Laurence at, 255 

Colosseum, the, martyrdoms in, 172 

Column of the Passion, at S. Zeno s 
chapel, 263 

Commentaries on the Gospels, c. , by 
Theophilus of Antioch, 189 

Commodilla, catacomb of, 236, 238 

Commodus, Emperor, 333 n. 2 

Apology of Athenagoras addressed 

to, 188 

Attitude of, to Christians, 97, 147, 
164, 208 



Communion of Saints, early Christian 

view on, 307 et seq. 
Communism and the early Church, 

120 6. I, 130 
Constantine the Great (see also Peace 

of the Church), 197, 369 
Basilicas built by, to 
S. Agnes, 256-7 
S. Paul, 237, 238 
S. Peter, 233, 237-8, 273, 279-80, 


Edict of Milan issued by, 150 
Memoria built by, to S. Laurence, 250 
Corinth, Epistles to, of S. Clement, 
S. Ignatius, S. Paul, and 
Pope Soter, see under 
Literary support from, of Petrine 

tradition, 10, 13 
SS. Peter and Paul at, 10 
Cornelius, Bishop or Pope, of Rome, 
and martyr, tomb of, 243, 
discovery of, 246 

on Almsgiving by the Roman Church, 
105, 120; on the number 
of the Christians at Rome, 
105, 106 

Council, the, of Jerusalem, 8 
"Couples," the, and the oral Law, 

339, 340 

Crassus, Consul, 56 
Creation legends in "Book of Jubilees," 


Cremation, not practised by Jews, 4 
Crescentius, martyr, tomb of, 266 
Cross on S. Peter s sarcophagus, 282-3 
Cruelty, Pagan and Christian, Rutilius 

on, 159 

Crusaders, Itineraries for, 210, 227 
Crypts, famous, see Acilii Glabriones 
Lucina, Papal, Platonia, 
Pmetextatus, SS. Cecilia, 
Januarius, Priscilla, Silanus, 

Age of, how determined, 267 
Identification of, by De Rossi, 225, 

230 &> n. I, 242 

Local indications of presence of, 228-9 
Cureton, Canon, and the Ignatian 

Epistles, 173 ;/. I 
Cyprus, Zealot revolt in, 334-5 
Cyrene, Jews of, 346, revolt of, 334-5 
Cyrinus, martyr, tomb of, 243 

DAMASUS, Pope, 263, 272, 301 

Epistle of, honouring S. Felicitas, 259 

Inscriptions of, aid of, to Catacomb 

explorers, 229-30 ; one cited 

on many martyrs buried 

together, 215 &n. I 

Damasus (continued) 

and the Martyrs at tomb of SS. Chrys- 
anthus and Daria, 261 

Work of, in the Catacombs, decora 
tion, inscriptions, and epi 
taphs, 152 n. i, 215 &>n. I, 
229-30, 249, 252, 275, 
291-2, 296 . I, 297, 302, 


Daniel, the prophet, and Idol-wor 
ship, 149 
Book of, cited on Almsgiving, 121 

David, King, 352 

Dead, burying of, by Early Christians, 
120, 131-3, 264 

Death, Christian attitude to, 154-5, 

309, 311 
Pagan attitude to, 59 . I, 83, 313-4 

De Boissier, , on Pliny s letter, 46 ; on 
the School for Martyrdom, 
198 . i 

De Broglie, , on Toleration shown 
by early Christian teachers, 

De Champagny, , on Hadrian s char 
acter, 77 n. i ; on number 
of Jews destroyed in the last 
wars, 338 6 ;/. 2 

Decius Aurelius, Emperor, persecutions 
under, 40, 97, 163 . 2, 250, 
254, martyrs in, 236, reason 
for, 194 

Decoration of Catacombs, evidence 
from, and teaching of, 225, 
267, 268, 269, 292, 301-2, 
if&ctstq. ; portraits among, 
296 ; value of, to explorers, 

Deissmann, Prof., on the Epistles, as 
written for publication, 71 

Deities associated with Rome, 87, 89 

De Rossi, G., Archaeological work of, 

209, 239, 246, 260, 261, 267 

Excavations and discoveries by, 12, 

42, 224, 246, 247, 254, 266 

n. I, 274 

Results, 225, 230 et seq. 
Value to, of Itineraries, 226 et seq. t 

242, 243, 246, 247 
on Acilius Glabrio, 269; on the 
Acts of S. Felicitas, 300 ; 
on Coemeterium Majus as 
S. Peter s Baptistery, 257 ; on 
Common tombs of martyrs, 
215 . i ; on Crypt of 
Lucina, 245 ; on Epitaphs 
in the Catacombs, 310; on 
the "Ostrian" Cemetery, 
2 5S, 257 ; on the place of 
martyrdom of S. Chrysan- 



De Rossi, G. (continued) 

thus, 260 ; on Pudens, 
265, 270; on S. Cecilia s 
burial-place, 289, 291, 
292, 293 n. i, 295-7, 298; 
on scenes of S. Peter s 
work, 12, 257, 267, 271 ; 
on S. Petronilla, 277 ; on 
S. Priscilla s Catacomb, 
261-2 ; on the Tomb of 
Ampliatus, 241-2 ; on the 
Tombs of Sons of S. Fe- 
licitas, 301-2 

Despots, the malady of, 26, 82 

Deuteronomy, Rabbinic claim for last 
verses of, 343, 364 

" Devising new things," a crime under 
Domitian, 269 

Dialogue with the few Trypho, by 
Justin Martyr, 184, on Per 
secution, 185-6 

Diana, worship of, 195 

Didacht!, the, teachings of, 138, on 
Almsgiving, 121, 123, on 
Assemblies, 108, on Hos 
pitality, 128, on Slaves and 
Masters, 135 

Dill, Prof., cited on Roman wish for 
posthumous remembrance, 

59 i 

Diocletian, Emperor, 75 
Baths of, 302 
Christian relations of, 148 
Christians at Court of, 147 
Persecutions under, 97, 163 ;;. 2, 

236, 244, 246, 249, 266 
Martyrs in, 234, 239, 259 . I, 
260, 276 ; official records 
of Roman martyrdoms de 
stroyed in his reign, 225 
Protracted, light on, from Cata 
combs, 231 

Reasons for, 42 & n. I, 194 
Severity of, reaction after, 151 
Diognetus, Letter to,byunknown writer, 
on Persecution, 177-8, sug 
gested date, 1 78 & n. I 
Dion Cassius, 75, 269, on Domitian s 
executions, 41 ; on the last 
wars of the jews, 328 n. I ; 
on Nerva s treatment of 
Christians, 171 

Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, on 
Christians at Court, 147 ; 
on Roman generosity to 
other Churches, 131 
Dionysius of Corinth, cited on Alms to 
other Churches from Rome, 
130-1 ; in support of Petrine 
tradition, 10, 13 

Dionysius, Pope, martyr, tomb of, 243 
Docetic teaching, heresy of, 23 n. I 
"Domine quo vadis," Church, and 

legend of, 239 
Domitian, Emperor, Arch of Titus 

finished by, 333 n. I 
Christian relatives of, 1 10, 112; burial- 
place of, 240, 241 
Emperor worship enforced by, 170 
Fate of, 42 &n. 2, 43, 48, 171 
Persecutions under, 32, 171, 172, 
173, 174, 207, 255, 269 ; 
reasons for, and severity of, 
40-2, 194 
Triumph of, 333 
Domitilla, catacomb of, 261 

Age, grandeur, and size of, 240, 266 

Basilica in, 278 

Builder of, 112 

Discovery of, 230, and discoveries 

in, 239, 240-2 
Flavian tombs in, 277 
S. Petronilla buried in, 279 
Domitilla, two Princesses so named, 
martyred by Domitian, 41, 

Doulcet, , ref. to, 300 
Dove, in Christian symbolism, 310 
Drei, Benedetto, plan by, of Vatican 

Cemetery (ancient), 287-8 
Dryden, John, poem by on S. Cecilia, 

294 ;/. I 

Duchesne, , on Christianity as equiva 
lent to Martyrdom, 37 ; on 
The Shepherd of Hermas, 
179 6w. i, 181 ; on 
S. Cecilia s burial-places, 
293 n. i ; term used by, for 
Church of Rome, 16 6. I 

EADBURG, Queen, 279 

Early Christian writers and teaching 

on Slavery, 135, 136-7 
Ebert and others on relative dates of 

Tertullian and Minucius 

Felix, 1 86 
Edict against Christians issued by 

Nero, 32, 54 
of Milan, 150 
Education, difficulties concerning, of 

Early Christians, 141-2 
figlise, L\ Chrttienne, ref. by Renan, 

on Hermas s Shepherd, 180 
EgKse, L , et ? Empire Remain, by Do 

Broglie, on early Christian 

toleration, 142-3 
Egypt, see Alexandria 
Einsiedeln, Itinerary of, cited, 212 ; 

date, 227 
" Syllogoe " at, 230 



Elders and Judges, and the Law, 339, 


Elements of the Faith , by Theophilus 
of Antioch, 189 

Eleutherius, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 
burial-place of, 287 ; list of 
predecessors of, 15 

Elisha, prophet, on Ceremonial idol 
atry, 149 

Emblems used in the Catacombs, 310 
et alibi 

Emperor- worship, 42 er=. I, 169, 170, 
181, 194, 195 

England, crusade of, against Slavery, 
Lecky on, 135 n. I 

Ephesians, Epistles to, see Epistles 

Ephesus, the "highway of martyrs," 


Epistles or Letters, anonymous, see 
Diognetus, Hebrews, Poly- 
Apostolic, 73-4, on Persecution, 

165, 166-7 

of New Testament writers, 70-2 
Catholic, 71, 72 
Pastoral, 72 

Patristic, on Persecution, 165, 170-6 
by Various writers, Christian and 
Pagan ; see also S. Cyprian 
Barnabas, 74 

on Assemblies, 108 ; on Christ s 

atonement, 116-7 
tradition on, 73 
Cicero, 56-7, 58, 64, 67, 69, 

Dionysius of Corinth to the Roman 

Church, 130-1 
Fronto, to M. Aurelius, 63-4 er 5 n. I, 

85, 86-7 
Horace, 69 n. I 
Julian, Emperor, to Arsacius, 123 

n. I, 128, 131 
Ovid, 69 . I 

Pliny the younger (g.v.), 57, 59-62 
Polycarp, 73, 125 
S. Clement of Rome, 
to the Corinthians, 73 

First, 37, 104 & n. 2, 126, 

128, 165, 170-2 ; teaching 

of, 138 ; cited in support 

of Petrine tradition, 9 

Second, so called, 104 n. 2, 

121 &*n. I 
S. Ignatius of Antioch, 73 

Authenticity of, 165, 172-3 

&n. 1 

to Corinth, 108, 172-6 
to Ephesus, 173 
to Magnesians, 174 
to Poly carp, 108 

Epistles or Letters (continued) 

S. Ignatius of Antioch (continued] 
to Rome, 9, 37, 154, 173, 174-5, 

199, 204-5 
to Tralles, 173 

S. James, meant for publication, 
71 ; on Assemblies, 107 ; on 
wealthy Christians, 1 10 ; on 
" pure religion," 126 
S. John, 

First, meant for publication, 

71, 72 

Third, on Hospitality, 129 
S. Jude, meant for publication, 71, 


S. Paul, two classes of, 70-2 
to Colossians, 23-4, 70 
to Corinthians, 21 

First, 134-5 ; Haggadic in 
fluence in, 379 
Second, 71 
to Ephesians, nature of, 23, 


to Galatians, 21, 135, 379 
to Philemon, 71, 134 
to Philippians, 23, 70, 154 
to Romans, 17, 19 & n. I, 21, 
24, 107, 129 ; Linus men 
tioned in, 283 
to Thessalonians, 21 
to Timothy, First and Second, 

72, 379 

to Titus, 72, 135 
on the Church at Jerusalem, 
and its poverty, 120 

i, 130 

S. Paulinus of Nola to Sulpicius 
Severus, on his^lave, 136-7 
S. Peter, First, 71, 129, date and 
place of writing, 8 &. I, 
16, 18, 19, 51, 107, 135, 
165, 166 n. i, 167; to 
whom addressed, 107 
Seneca, 57, 69, 71 ; to Lucilius, 29 
Sidonius Apollinaris, 64, 66-7 
Soter, to Corinth, 104 
Theophilus of Antioch, to Auto- 

lycus, 108-9, ^9 

Epitaphs (set also Inscriptions) in the 

Catacombs, Characteristics 

of, Christian, 154-5, 307-9 ; 

Pagan, 154-5, 313-4 

Equality without democracy among 

Early Christians, 38 
Eschatologic trend of the Haggadah, 


Esquiline Hill, church on, 262 
Essenes, the, 330 

Europe, Christian congregations in 
mid -second century, 36 



Eusebian catalogue of Roman Bishops, 

value of, in support oi 

Petrine tradition, 14, 15, 

Armenian version of above, 

ib. ib. 

Eusebius, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 
128, 147, 187-8, attempted 
exculpation by, of Trajan, 
49 ; burial-place of, 243, 
indentified, 243 

cited in support of Petrine tradition, 
10, H-I2, 14; on Alms 
giving, 120, 127 ; on high 
offices filled by Christians, 
149 ; on the Plague, and 
on Christian charity, 127 ; 
on Pliny s correspondence 
with Trajan, 45 ; on Theo- 
philus of Antioch, 189 

Evander, home of, 87 

EvangileS) Les, by Renan, cited on 
Pliny s letter, 46 n. I ; on 
Trajan as persecutor, 49 

Evaristus, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 
burial-place of, 287 

Exhortatio ad Alar ty rum, by Origen, 

Exile of the Jews, in Babylonia, 

Effect of, on their character, 348, 

36i, 371 
Return from, 

Rise of the Scribes on, 343, 356 
Talmud, origin of, coeval with, 348 
Ezra, 342, 343 

FABIUS, Bishop of Antioch, 105 
Faith, in Early Christian Church, 39 
Fame, posthumous, Roman yearning 

for, 59 &* n. i, 65 
Family life, early Christian difficulties 

in, 140-1 
Fasting, early Church, 124 &n. I ; 

Rigourist teaching on, 153 
Filocalus, Furius Dionysius, inscriptions 

cut by, 230, fame of, 301 
Fire of Rome, the great, 25, attributed 

to Nero, 26-7, 28, 31, 285 ; 

consequence of, to Christians 

and to Jews, 27-30 
Martyrdom by, 28-30, 256, un 

usual, 275 
Fish, mystic, explained, 310, 316-7 

Flaccus, 3 

Flavian Emperors, the (see also Dom- 
itian, Titus, and Vespasian), 
persecutions under, and 
reasons for, 39-42, 163 
n. i, 172, 173, 174; tombs 
of, 277 

Flavianus, Pope, martyr, tomb of, 243 

Flavius Clemens, Consul, martyred by 
Domitian, 41 

Florus, Procurator of Judea, 330 

Forgiveness of Sin, consciousness of, 
joy from, 155-6 

Formula for reply, of possible 
Martyrs, 199 

Fortitude under Torture, Justin Martyr 
on, 185 ; moral effect of, 
Lecky on, 193-4 ; Roman 
view, 193, 205 

Forum, the, 86, 89 

Freedmen, in Rome, 137 

Freeman, Prof. , on S. Petronilla s altar, 
at Gloucester, 279 

Friedlander, , views of, on Trajan s 
Rescript, 49 

Fronto, 95, 145, contempt of, for 
Christians, 158; correspond 
ence with Marcus Aurelius 
and his colleague, 63-4 ; 
letters of, on Antoninus 
Pius, 85, 86-7 

GALATIANS, Epistle to, see Epistles 

Galba, Emperor, 39, 331 

Gallerius, Emperor, and the ceme 
teries, 237 

Callus, Cestius, siege by, of Jeru 
salem, 330 

Gamaliel, the elder, 366 

Gaul (see also Lyons, Vienne, &Y.)> 
Visigoth invasion of, 66 

Gcmara, the, 344-5 n. I, 346, 362, 
370 ; basis of, 358 n. I, 360, 
361 ; exclusive spirit in, 
366-8 ; extravagances of, 
347; Rabbis of, 358, n. I, 
359 ; study of, 362-3 ; two 
versions of, 356 &n. 4 

Generosa, catacomb of, 235, 236 

Genesis, Book of, Ilaggadic com 
mentary on, 377-8 

Gentle School of Christian teach 
ing, 101, 157 

Gieseler, , views of, on Trajan s Re 
script, 49 

Ginsberg, Dr., work of, on Massoretic 
notes, 363-4 

Gloucester Abbey, altar and chapel of 
S. Petronell at, 279 

Gnosticism, rise of, concurrent with 

Rabbinism, 326 

Teachers of, classes addressed 
by, 112 n. i 

Golden Age, The, of the Church (by 
author), cited, on Saints 
power over Animals, 176 
n. i 



Good Shepherd, the, paintings of, in 
Catacombs, 248, 301, 308, 
310, 317-20 &nn. 

Gospel, the, at Rome, problem of its 
beginnings, tradition as to 
founder, 7, literary quota 
tions sustaining, 8, 9 et seq. 

Gospels (sec also under Names), 
Canonical, in circulation 
temp. Antonines, 96 ; form 
of, 72 ; power of, 103 ; 
woman s position in, 367 

Government service, Christians in, 
difficulties of, 141, 144, 145, 
147, 148-9 

Graffiti in the Catacombs, 248, 251, 259 
Great Synagogue, the Men of, 339, 340 
Greece (see also Corinth), S. Paul s 

missionary success in, 107 
Gregory the Great, additions by, to 
Basilica of S. Paul, 238 ; 
and the Monza labels, 214, 
228, 303-4 ; homily by, on 
S. Felicitas, 305 ; prayer 
of, for Trajan, 49; on the 
Acts of S. Felicitas, 300; 
on reverence for tombs of 
great Saints, 283 
Gregory IV, Pope, 275 

HADRIAN, Emperor, 104, 164, 182, 
274 ; accession and reign of, 
authorities on, 75; buildings 
by, at Jerusalem, 77-8, 332, 
335-6 et seq. ; character of, 
75) 85 ; cities founded by, 
76 ;/. i ; death, last days, 
and insanity of, 82-3, 84, 335 

Persecutions by, and attitude towards 
Christianity, 77, 81-3, 163 
n. 2, 247, reason for, 194 

Rescript of, So ; effect of, 1 80 

Villa of, 82 

Wars of, 325 

Zealot revolt under, 334 
Ilaggadah, the, 343 &* n. 2, 344; 
detailed explanation of, 371 
et seq., 377-9; Divine in 
spiration claimed for, 365 ; 
edited by R. Akiba, 356 ; in 
the Exile, and after, 349-50, 
351 & n. I, 371 et seq. ; 
Talmud popularity largely 
due to, 371 ; sources of, 

Ilaggadic notices, nature of, 373 ; where 

met with, 358 n. I, 372, 373 
Ilaggai, the prophet, and the oral 

Law, 339 

Hagiographa, Divine inspiration 

ascribed to, 365 

Ilalachah, the, 343 &n.2, 344, 349, 
350 ; developments of, 
376-7 ; discussions on, 360 ; 
editions of, by R. Akiba, 
354-6, by "Rabbi," 358 
n. i ; reduced to writing by 
"Rabbi," 372 & n. I 

Harnack, A., on authorship of 2nd 
Epistle of Clement of 
Rome, 104 n. 2 ; on The 
Shepherd of Hermas, its 
date, 179 cr* . i, and various 
classes in the Church, 124-5; 
on the Martyrdom of The- 
ban legion, 148 n. i ; on 
numbers of early Christians, 
inference from size of 
Catacombs, 105-6 &* n. I ; 
on the Padagogus of 
Clement of Alexandria, 
in 11.1 

Hebrews, Epistle to the, 71, 72; 
Haggadic influence seen 
m i 379 > on Christian As 
semblies, 107 ; on Charity, 
130 ; on Hospitality, 128-9 
on Persecution, 165, 166 

Ilegesippus, list by, of Roman 
Bishops, 15 

Heracleon, Gnostic teacher, 1 12 n. I 

Heresies and Heretics, first century, at 
Rome, 22, 23 or 3 n. I 

Heretical teachers, second century, 
successful contentions of 
Christians with, 37 

Hermas, author of The Shephera 
(Pastor) (q.v.\ . 136 n. I, 
178; teaching of, 138, 179, 

Herod Antipas, and S. Peter, 19 . I 

Herod family, 3, 329 

Herod the Great, 340 

Herodians, 329 

Hilary of Poitiers, on persecuting 
Roman Emperors, 40 &n. 3 

Hillel, 366 ; attempt of, to edit 
Mishnah material, 351 ; 
codification work of, 366 
n. I ; and Shammai, 339, 
debt to, of Rabbinism, 340 

Histoire Ancienne de ?glise, by 
Duchesne, cited, 16 &=. I, 
179 &n. I, 181, 293 n. I 

Histoire des Persecutions, by Allard 
(q.v.), cited, 19 n. i, 42 
n. i, 48 

I Histoire des Persecutions, by Aube", 
cited, on Domitian, 42 n. 2 


Historia Monasterii S. Petri 
Gloueestrue, on Royal 
burials near S. Petronilla s 
altar, 279 

Histories of Tacitiis (<?.v.), the Lost, 
passage from (alleged) on 
destruction of the Temple, 
331 &n. I, 332 

History of European Morals, by Lecky, 
on Christian charity, 137-8 ; 
on Christian fortitude and | 
its effects, 193-4 ; on Chris 
tianity, causes of its spread, 
150 &n. 2; on Slavery, 
134, 135 &n. I, 136 ;/. I 

Honorius, Emperor, 56, 252-3 ; and 
the Basilica of S. Paul, 238 

Honorius I, Pope, 276 ; and the 
Basilica of S. Pancras, 235 

Honorius in, Pope, additions by, to 
S. Paul s Basilica, 238 ; 
and the Basilicas to 
S. Laurence, 250 

Honorius iv, Pope, the Talmud 
condemned by, 366 

Hope, Christian, for the joy of the 
Future Life, 156-8, 311; 
evidence of Catacombs 
on, 268 

Horace, poetic epistles of, 69 n. I 

Horatius and the bridge, 87 

Hospitality, in the early Church, 
128-9; in provision of 
graves, 38 

Hyginus, Pope, burial-place of, 287 

ICHTHUS, meaning of,3io, 316-7 (Sr w.l 

Idol-worship (see also Incense), Cere 
monial, attitude to, of 
Rigourist and opposite 
schools, 144-5, 147, 148 ; I 
Old Testament attitude to, j 
149 ; Tertullian on, 203 

Ignatius and Poly carp, by Lightfoot, 
cited, 40 . 3 

Immortality, Christian ideas on, 156-8 I 

Imperial cultus, see Emperor-worship 
Families, Christian members of, no, j 

112, 148, 240, 241 
Household, Christians in, 147 

Incense, offering of (see also Idol- 
worship), test for Christians, 
52, 53, 181, 194-6 

Insanity of despots, see Hadrian and 

Inscriptions in the Catacombs (see also 
Damasus), 237, 251, 267, 
268, 271, 285, 296-7, 301 
Greek, 256-7, age witnessed 
by, 267, 268 

Inscriptions in the Catacombs (contd. ) 
" Graffiti," later, 229 
Teaching of, 219, 220, 225, 307 
Value of, to explorers, 229 

Inspiration, claimed for Haggadah, 
365 ; of Jewish Scriptures, 
Talmud view on, 364-5 ; of 
New Testament writings, 
70 ; voice of, cessation of, 73 

Invocation of Saints, not generally 
taught in Catacombs, 312 

Irenceus, teacher of S. Hippolytus, 14, 
138, 170, 251, 315, 
319 n. I ; list of Roman 
Bishops by, 15 ; writings 
addressed by, to cultured 
classes, in w. I 

cited in support of Petrine tradi 
tion, 10, 14 

on Christians at Court, 147 ; on the 
founding of the Roman 
Church by SS. Peter and 
Paul and on Linus, 15 ; on 
numbers of Christians at 
Rome, 104, 106, 107 ; on 
Polycarp and his memories 
of S. John, 73 

Isaiah, the prophet, 365 ; book of, 53rd 
chapter of, use made of, by 
early Christian writers, 
117 6;/. I 
cited on Forgiveness of Sins, 155 

Israel, Glorification of, the object of 
the Talmud, 345 

Itineraries, Pilgrim (see also Names), 
value of, to explorers of 
Catacombs, c., 209 et seq., 
227-8, 242, 243, 246, 247 

JAMNIA, Rabbinic School at, 326, 353, 

357, 358 n. i 
Jannes and Jambres, source of names 

of, 379 

Jerusalem, /Klia Capitolina built on 
site of, 332, 335-6, result, 
336-8 ; Hadrian s insults at, 
to Christianity, 77-8 

Apostolic Council at, S. Peter at, 8 

Communism in the Church at, results 
of, 120 n. i, 130 

Fall and destruction of, effect on 
Jewish nation, 22, 39, 340, 
342, 346-8, 351, 353, 355, 
357, 362, 368 

Parties in, before first great war, 

Sieges of, in order of date, by Gallus, 
330, Vespasian, 331, Titus, 
331-3, Severus, 337 

Taken by Pompey, 3 


JESUS CHRIST (see also Christ), God 
head of, importance of the 
testimony of Apostolic 
Fathers in regard to, 74 
Jew, the, and the Talmud (Book 

V.), 325 etseq. 
Jewish Encyclopedia, cited on the life 

of Rabbinic schools, 359 
Jewish heroes, Haggadic legends of, 378 

Learning, stimulus to, of Talmudic 
study, 369 

National ideals as affected by War of 
Extermination, 78-9 

Scriptures, Canonical, 361, inspira 
tion of, 364-5 

Women, disabilities of, 367 6 n. I, 

3 8o 

Jews, attitude of, to the Gospel, reasons 
for, 7 

Discrimination of, from Christians by 
Romans, progress of, 27, 
30, 78, 79, 80, 92, 164 

of the Dispersion, influence on, of 
Rabbinism, 339-41, and of 
the Talmud, 339 et seq., 

Pate of, after last wars, 325-6 

History of, in Old Testament and 
after, 325-6, evidential im 
portance of, to Christianity, 
325, 326 

Persecutions of, and martyrs of, 336, 
337, 338 

Preservation of, as distinct race, 326, 
cause of, 339, 345-7 

in Rome, 3-6, 346, expulsion of, 8, 
18, 25, Roman attitude to 
beliefs of, 3, 39, rulers 
favourable to, 3 

Twentieth Century, distinct, still, as 
race, 326 ; influence of, 
346 ; numbers of, 369 

Wars of, the three last, story of, and 
of consequences, 77, 78-9, 

80, 325, 329 "*"/, 354 
Jochanan ben Zacchai, Rabbi, and his 

school of disciples, work of, 

on the Mishna, 341, 353 ; 

teaching of, 358 
John, the Abbot, 228 
John, the Deacon, 49 
John, King, desired burial-place of, 321 
John, the Presbyter, cited on S. Mark, 

Jordani, catacomb of, 258, 260, tombs 

in, of sons of S. Felicitas, 

2 59, 303 

Joseph of Arimathea, no 
Joseph the patriarch, and idol -worship, 


Josephus, on the burning of the 
Temple, 331 

Joshua, and the oral Law, 339 

Judaea, Roman rule over, 329, and 
revolts against (see also 
Jews, Wars of, and Zealots), 
329 et seq. 

Judaism, Authority and Influence of the 
Talmud on, 368-9 

Julia Sabina, wife of Hadrian, 75 

Julian, Emperor, 75, Letter from, to 
Arsacius, on Christian char 
acteristics, 131 ; on Chris 
tian brotherliness, 123 n I, 

Julianus, Pope, martyr, tomb of, 243 

Julius Caesar, 56 ; favour shewn by, to 
Jews, 3 

Julius I, Pope, 276 

Jupiter, worship of, test for Christians, 
194, 195 

Justin Martyr, 319 n. I ; compared with 
Theophilus of Antioch, 189; 
martyrdom of, 94, 104, 184 ; 
teaching of, 138 

on Aid to Prisoners, 130; on Alms 
giving, 113-4, 119, 129; on 
Assemblies, 108, 113-4; on 
Care of the Sick, 127 ; on 
Christian fortitude, 185 ; 
on Christ s atonement, 117 ; 
on highly-placed Christians, 
III ; on Hospitality, 113-4, 
128, 129; on the numbers 
of Christians, 104, 106, 107; 
on Persecutions, 37, 184-6 ; 
on progress of Christian 
ity, 107 

Justinian, Emperor, dedication of a 
church by, to a slave-saint, 
136 . I ; Talmud con 
demned by, 365 

Justus, and S. Nicomedes, 255-6 
Juvenal, on Domitian s unpopularity, 
42 dr" . 2 ; on the ideal 
Roman, 88 ; on Roman 
Society, 58 

KABBALA, the, 360, 362 n. I 
Kimchi, D., famous Rabbinist, 369 
Kyneburg, Abbess of Gloucester, 279 

LACTANTIUS, on Almsgiving, 122 ; on 
Care for widows and orphans, 
126-7 ; on Christian virtues, 
and burial of the dead, 
131-2, 133; on Persecu 
tions, 32 

Lanciani. , 236, cited on Basilica of 
S. Paul, 238 



Languages, of Christian Epitaphs in 
Catacombs, 308 

Lateran Museum, Christian sarcophagi 
in, sculptures on, 19 ;/. I 

Latin language, debt of, to Cicero, 58 

Latin Literatiire, by Dr. Mackail, 
cited on Marcus Aurelius s 
letters, 63 n. I 

Law, Mosaic (see Torah and Midrash), 
Commentaries on, see Hag- 
gadah, Halachah, Midrash, 
Talmud, Targumim, &c. 
Roman, on treatment of Chris 
tians, 32, 49 

"Law upon the Lip," tradition 
on, 339 

Le Blant, , on the School for Martyr 
dom, 198 n. I 

Lecky, W. H., cited, see History of 
European Morals 

Leland s Itinerary, on cult of S. Pet- 
ronilla(Petronell), 278-9 

Leo ill, Pope, translation of S. Feli- 
citas and Silanus by, 259, 

Leo IV, Pope, saints translated by, 
249 ; on tombs of Priscilla 
and Aquila, 262 

Letter-form, of Apostolic " remains," 
73 ; in Literature, reason of 
popularity, 70-1 ; sole O.T. 
instance of, 69 

Letters (see also Epistles), by Classical 
writers and others, in 
Roman literature, 56 et seq. 
meant for publication, 56, 61-2, 
65, 66, 67, 68, not so 
meant, 63 

others, by Christians modelled on 
these lines, 69 et seq. 

Letters relating the Martyrdom of Poly- 
carp, genuine, 8 1 n. I 

Liber Pontificates, antiquity of, 15 ; 
value of, to Catacomb ex 
plorers, 226-7 

cited on Basilica of Constantine the 
Great at S. Peter s tomb, 
282 ; on S. Cecilia s tomb, 
262, 293 . I, 296 ; on 
Novatus, 264 ; on S. Pris- 
cilla s catacomb, burials in, 
266 ; on S. Pudentiana and 
her sister, 264, 265 n. I 

Liberian or Philocalian catalogue, cited 
in support of Petrine tradi 
tion, 14, 15; on burials in 
S. Priscilla s cemetery, 266 ; 
on the tomb of S. Felicitas 
and her sons, 301, 302-3, 

Liberius, Pope, 301 ; burial-place 
of, 272 

Licinius, 29 

Lightfoot, Bp., 121 n. I ; on the Acts of 
the Passion of S. Felicitas, 
300 ; on the Antonine perse 
cutions, 94 & n. 2 ; on the 
authorship of the 2nd Epistle 
of Clement of Rome, 104 n. I ; 
on Cains, II ; on the date 
of the Epistle to Diognetus, 
178 n. i ; on the date of 
Octavius, 1 86; on Epistol 
ary form as usual with the 
Apostles, 74 n. I ; on 
genuineness of Pliny s 
letter, c., 46 &n. I ; on 
Hilary s reference to Ves 
pasian s persecutions, 40 
&n. 3; on Ignatius, 73, 
authenticity of his (so-called) 
Epistles, 172-3, his letter 
to the Roman Church, 9, 
his yearning for martyrdom, 
175 ; on The Shepherd, of 
Hennas, 180, on its date 
and author, 179 n. I ; on 
S. Hippolytus, II, 251-2; 
on S. Laurence, 254 ; on 
S. Paul s Epistle to the 
Romans and S. Peter s first 
coming to Rome, 19 n. \ ; 
on S. Peter (and S. Mark) 
in Rome, 10, 18 ; on 
S. Petronilla, 277 

Linus, Pope, first Bishop of Rome 
after S. Peter, 12, 15 ; 
burial-place of, 283, 287 ; 
Jerome on, 14 ;" Memoria " 
chapel of, Papal burial-place 
in church on site of, 273 

Lister, Jane, epitaph of, 309 

Literary witness to Martyrs histories 
rehabilitated by De Rossi s 
excavations, 225, 230-1 
to Numerousness of Martyrs, 209 

et seq. 
to Persecution, A.D. 64-80, 163 et seq. 

Lombards, the, 293, 297 

Lorium, country home of Antoninus 
Pius, 86, 87 

Love as bond of Christians, 118-9 

Lucilius, Seneca s letters to, 29 

Lucina, Catacomb or Cemetery of, in 
a garden, 234, 236, 238, 
239 ; S. Paul s burial-place, 
236 ; S. Sebastian s burial- 
place, 244 
Crypt of, indentification of, 245 

Lucius Quietus, Roman general, 335 


Lucius Verus, Fronto s correspondence 

with, 63 

" Luminaria," in the Catacombs, 296 
6fn. I ; indication from, of 
crypt below, 229 

Lydda, Rabbinic school of, 357, 358 . I 
Lyons, birthplace of Sidonius Apollin- 

aris, 65 
Literary support from, of Petrine 

tradition, 9, 13 
Martyrdoms at, 94, 201, 208, genuine 

accounts of, 81 n. i 
Pliny s letters read to an audience, 61 

MACCABEAN dynasty, agreements made 

by, with Rome, 3 
Maccabees, story in, like that of 

S. Felicitas, 258, 298 
Mackail, Dr., on letters of Marcus 

Aurelius, 63 & w. I 
Madaurian persecutions, 94 
Maderno, Stefano, architect, 259 n. I, 

statue of S. Cecilia by, 294, 

replicas of, ib. n. I 
Magnesia, Epistle to, of Ignatius, 173, 


Mahommedanism, spread of, compared 
with that of Christianity, 102 

Maimonides, famous Rabbinist, 369 ; 
on the fathers of Rabbin- 
ism, 339 

Manuals of Martyrdom, 199 

Marc-AurHc, by Renan, cited, 146 n. \ 

Marcellinus, Pope and martyr, burial- 
place of, 266, identified, 231 

Marcellus, Pope and martyr, burial- 
place of, 266, 272 

Marchi, Father, archaeological work 
of, 209, 224 

Marcia, patronage by, of Christians, 147 

Marcion, 189 

Marcius Turbo, Roman general, 335 

Marcomanni, war with, 95 

Marcus, burial-place identified, 231 

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus adopted by 
Antoninus Pius and suc 
cessor to him, 83, 145, 
245, 292 ; attitude of, to 
Christians, 33, 64, 80, 158 
Character of, 84 et seq., 189 
Correspondence of, with Fronto, 63-4 
Death of, 164 

" Meditations" by, 85-6, 96-7; on 

Antoninus Pius, 85-6 ; 

Christian pages of, 147 ; on 

his religious ideas, 96-7 

its one reference to Christians, 96-7 

Persecutions by, 80-1, 162 n. 2, 164, 

188-9, I 9> 2 7 2 8 n. i, 

and reasons for, 81, 91-7, 

Marcus Aurelius (continued) 

137, 194; martyrs in, 184, 
258-9, 264, 266, 289, 290, 
291, 298 etseq., 305 
Melito s discourse on, written to, 


Table of succession of, 83 
Marriage, Rigourist teaching on, 153 
Mars, 195 
Martial, poet, 59 n. I ; attitude of, to 

the old Roman virtue, 88 
Martyrdom, aspiration to, checked by 

the Church, 154 
Attraction of (see Ignatius), 37, 153 

et seq. 

Schools of training for, 33, 36, 145 
Methods of, writers on, 197, 198 

er* n. I et seq. 

Physical training for, 198, 201-3 
Spiritual training, 198-201 
Results, 203-5 

Spirit in which faced, 205 et prcrvi 
Marty res, Ad, by Tertullian, 199; on 

Physical training, 202 
Martyrii, De Laudi, 199 ; on Christian 

fortitude in torture, 193 
Martyrologies, literary sources of, in 
many instances rehabili 
tated by De Rossi s cata 
comb excavations, 225, 
230-1 ; on Confessors buried 
in Catacomb of Commo- 
dilla, 239 
Martyrology of S. Jerome, value of, to 

Catacomb explorers, 226 
Martyrs, Apocalyptic references to, 37, 

157, 167-70 

Burial and burial-places of (see Cata 
combs, Cemeteries, and 
Itineraries), 285-6; burial 
near, desired, 312 &n.i t 

Formula for, of reply to judge, 199 
Hermas on, 181 
Hymns on, by Prudentius and 

others, 151-2 &n. I 
under Nero (<j.v.), 267-8, 285-6 
Numbers of, emphasized, 33; 
"small" theory refuted by 
archaeology and literature, 82 
er 3 n. 1 , 207 et seq. , 209 et seq. 
Christian and Pagan witness to, 208 
Second -century, rarity of Festivals 

of, 208 

Seed of the Church, 196, 203 
Slaves, famous, 136 
Tombs of, 300 et passim 
Traces of, in S. Peter s Memoria, 284-5 
Translation of, 227, 235, 236, 266 
. 1,267,272,273-4,292 



Martyrttm^ De Gloria, by S. Gregory j 
of Tours, cited on tragedy 
at tomb of SS. Chrysanthus 
and Daria, 261 

Marty rum, De Locis SS., cited 210-1 1, 
303 ; on numbers of martyrs, 
212, 213, 214 

Marucchi, , archa-ological researches 
and work of, 12, 42, 234, 
239, 263, 301 ; identification 
by, of S. Peter s baptistery, 
12, 257 

on Acilius Glabrio, 269 
on Catacomb of S. Priscilla as as 
sociated with S. Peter, &c., 
257, 267, 268, 270, 271, 273 
on its immensity and regularity, 27 1 
on the Domitilla Cemetery, 240 
on Excavations, results of, attained 

and anticipated, 231-2 
on Nicomedes cemetery, reservoir 

in, 256 

on Papal burial-places, 273 
on S. Cecilia s burial-places and tradi 
tion, 293 n. I, 298 
on S. Felicitas s tomb, and those of 

her sons, 302, 303 
on the Thrason Catacomb, 260 
on the veneration paid to S. Laur 
ence, 250 

Massorah, the, 361 et seq. ; Temple 
Torah readings preserved 
in, 333 n. 2 

Massoretes, the, duties of, 361-2 
Massoretic notes on the sacred Jewish 

texts, 362-4 

Mauritania!) martyrdoms, 208 
Maximian, Emperor, 14 & n. I 
Maximin, Emperor, Persecution under, 

163 . 2 

Meir, Rabbi, codification of Talmud 
by> 356 ; maxims of, on 
Women, 367 

Melito, Bishop of Sardis, on Hospitality, 
128 ; on Persecution, 32, 
187-8; silent as to Ves 
pasian, 40 ;/. 3 

Memoriae or Chapel-Tombs of Apostles, 

at Rome, locale of, u, 233, 

281 et seq. ; testimony of, to 

Petrine tradition, 17 

Mental guerdons of Christianity, 154-9 

Messiah, hopes of, revolts due to, 

330, 334 
pseudo, revolts caused by, 336 

et seq., 354-5 
Midoth, treatise, 358 n. I 
Midrash) definition of, 371 

Explained, two currents in, 350, 351 
Subject-matter of, 376-7 

Midrashim, the, 360 

Milan, Edict of, effect of, on spread of 
Christianity, 150 6 n. I 

Milman, Dean, on the style of the 
Octavitis of Minucius 
Felix, 186-7 

Minucius Felix (sec Octavitis by), 158 

Miracles, Talmundic teaching on, 365 

Mishnah (see also Haggadah, Halachah, 
and Talmud) ; basis of, 361 ; 
chief object of study, 
Rabbinic schools, 358 n. I, 
how studied, 359-60, 362-3; 
curiosities of, 346-7 ; Divine 
inspiration claimed for, 
365 ; evolution of, 341, 
342-4 ; exclusive spirit in, 
366-8 ; meaning of name, 
and nature of work, 341 
&n. I, 344 &n. I, 356 
dr-,1.3, 358 d-w.i, 365, 
370; oral at first, 344; in 
the two Talmuds, 344-5 
on Akiba s martrydom, 355 n. I ; on 
the history of the Talmud, 

Mishnah, the non-canonical, 360, 373 

Mishnic Rabbis, work of, on Halachah 
and Haggadah, 341,344-5, 
347, 351, 352, 358 n. I 

Mission and Expansion of Christianity, 
byllarnack, io6w. I, 124-5 

Mommsen, , 331 n. i, on Pagan 
Rome personified in Apoc 
alypse, 169;?. I ; on Pliny s 
letter, 46 

Monza Catalogue and Labels, story of, 
evidence of, on numerous- 
ness of martyrs, 214-5, 228 ; 
reference in to S. Felicitas 
and her sons, 303-4 ; use of, 
to catacomb explorers, 228 

Mosaic work, oldest, in Roman 
church, 263 

Mosaism, destruction of, 341 

Moses, 348, 389, and the Law, 339 
Rabbinical teaching in> 343 6w. I, 
and on, 364, 373-4, 378 

Mucius Scaevola, torture of, 187 

Muratorian Canon, on date of The 
Shepherd vi Hernias, 178-9 

Music, association with, of S. Cecilia, 
294 ;/. I 

Mutual aid between Christian Churches, 
inculcated, 130-1 

Myers, F. W., verse by, on the 
Atonement, 115 n. I 

NAAMAN, the Syrian, and Idol 
worship, 149 


Nrevius, the augur, 87 

Naples, memorial at, of S. Agnes, 

Nehardea, Rabbinic school at, 357, 

358 n. i 

Nero, Emperor, 39, 40, 41, 42 w. 2, 
182, 183, 197, 232, 245, 269 
Death of, 207, 331 
Edict of, against Christians, 32, 54 
Fire at Rome attributed to, 26-7, 28, 

31, 285 
Insanity of, 26 
Jews in Rome in reign of, 5 
Persecutions by, 10, 28, 30, 46 n. I, 
62, 104, 164, 167, 172, 190, 
197 ; burnings under, 28-30 ; 
numbers involved, 28, 46 
n. i ; S. Peter martyred 
during, 267, 285-6;Tacitus s 
references to, 62 

New Testament, the, writers of, and 
writings, see also tinder 
names of Authors, and of 
Books, and see Epistles 
Assemblies mentioned in, 101 
Haggadic influences seen in, 378-9 
Inspiration of, 70 
Publication intended, Deissmann 

on, 71 
References in, to Persecution, 165, 

Teaching of, on Hospitality, 128-9, 

and on Slavery, 134-5 
Witness of, to spread of Chris 
tianity, 107 
Nicholas, Pope, 226 
Nicodemus and other persons of 
position among Early 
Christians, 110-12 
Nicolaitan heresy, 23 n. i 
Nicomedia, Court of, Christians 

at, 147-8 

Nimes, birthplace of Antoninus Pius, 83 
Nomeseus, martyr, 211 
Northcote, Dr., on Early Christian 
faith as shown in Catacomb 
inscriptions, 310 

"Notices" on the founding of the 
Roman Church, as bearing 
on tradition of S. Peter, 
8, 9 et seq. 

Novatus, Baths of, 264, 265 
Numerian, Emperor, persecution 
under, 260 

OC7AVIUS, Dialogue by Minucius 
Felix, 138, 145-6, 186-7 5 
on Christian love, 119, 129 ; 
on Christians in high place, 
in; on persecution 186-7 

Octodurum, Martyrdom legend of, 
148 . i 

Old Testament, Books of, text of, 
Jewish care of, and com 
mentaries on, 342 et seq.) 
370, 371-9 

Christian reverence for, influence on, 
of the Talmud, and of 
Rabbinism, 327, 370 
&n. I 

Earliest Hebrew MSS. of, 363 
History in, value of, 325 
Letter in, the one, 69 
Teaching of, on Almsgiving, 12 1 

Onesimus, and S. Paul, 134 

Oral teaching in Rabbinic Schools, 

Oratory, Church of, London, replica in 
of Maderno s S. Cecilia 
effigy, 294 . I 

Origen, modified Rigourism of, 146 ; 
teaching of, 139; identifica 
tion by, of Hermas, 178; 
veneration of, for The 
Shepherd, by Hermas, 1 79 ; 
writings by, on Martyr 
dom, 199 

Osric, King of Northumbria, burial- 
place of, 279 

Ostia, 145, 1 86-7, 235, 236 

Ostian Way, Memoria of Apostle 
on, ii 

Ostrian Cemetery, other names of, 
255, 257, 271 

Otho, Emperor, 39, 331 

Overbach, , views of, on Trajan s 
Rescript, 49 

Ovid, poetic epistles of, 69 . I 

Ozanam on Slaves in Roman Empire, 
first and second centuries, 
135 * 

P^EDAGOGUS, by Clement of Alex- 
andria, addressed to a cul 
tured community, in n. i ; 
on Christians in the world, 

Pagan attitude to Christianity, and its 
basis {see also Persecutions), 
28, 30-4, 35, 36, 51, 77, 
137, 142-3, 158-9, 164-5, 
194, 196-7 

Attitude to death, 134, 313-4 
Ideas on Christian misery, 158-9 
Neglect to bury the dead, 132 
Neglect of the poor, 128 
Writings, witnessing to Persecutions 
(see Pliny s letter to Trajan), 
36, and to spread of Chris 
tianity, 107 



Paganism (passim), at core of Roman 
Empire, De Broglie on, 
142-3 ; displaced by Chris 
tianity, when, and why, 

150, 151 

Pain, unfelt by Martyrs, testimony to, 200 
Palaces, Christians in, 110-11, 147, 149 
Palatine Hill, palace on, of the Em 
perors, 86, 89 ; graffito of 
crucifix on, deduction from, 
147 &n. I 

Palestine (see also Gemara aw^/Talmud), 
Rabbinic Schools of, 326, 
344, 362-3, 373 ; the chief, 
353, 356 & n. 4, 358 ft. I ; I 
mode of teaching at, 357-60 
Roman occupations of, and Rabbin - 

ism, 340 
Traces of the last "War" still seen 

in, 338-9 

Palestinian Talmud, the, 345 
Pallanteum, rebuilt by Antoninus, 87 
Palm, as Christian Emblem, 310 
Pantheon, portico of, robbed for Pope 

Urban s baldachino, 280 
Papal burial-places, 243, 245, 246, 250, 
266 &n. I, 272-4, 283-5, 
286-7, 291 

Crypt, named after Pope Callistus 
(sec also Papal burial-places), 
234, 236-7, 242, 244 et seq., 
273, 287, 296, 297 

Papias of Hierapolis, cited in support 
of Petrine tradition, 9, 10, 

13, M 

Paschal I, Pope, 227, 273, 276, body of 
S. Cecilia found by, 292-4, 
and translated, 294, 297 ; 
Church of S. Cecilia built 
by, 292 ; translation by, of 
Martyrs remains, 235, 262, j 
263, 295 
Vision of, 293 
on Forgotten Martyrs, 215 n. I 

Passions of the Martyrs, oft -repeated 

answer given in, 199 
of S. Perpetua, on Insensibility of 
Martyrs to Pain, 200 

Pastor (not The Shepherd, q.v.\ 264 

Patristic views of The Shepherd of 
Hermas, 179 

Paul, the Deacon, 49 

Paul I, Pope, 227, 273 ; translation by, 
of Martyrs ashes, 235, 
especially of S. Hippo- 
lytus, 254 

Paul v, Pope, 257, discoveries made by, 
in Vatican cemetery, 280-1 
et setf. t 287 ; work of, on 
S. Peter s at Rome, 279-80 

"Pax Romana," the, 58 
Peace of the Church, the, 29-30, 203, 
215, 228, 259, 263, 266, 
272, 276, 302, 309 
Pilgrimages to Rome after, 209, 216, 

228, 251 

Pentateuch (see also Halachah), as 
canon of Jewish Scripture, 
post -exilian days, 361; 
reverence felt for, 342, 343, 
361 ; Talmudic view of its 
inspiration, 364-5 

People, the, faith of, shown by Cata 
combs, 315, 319 n. I ; how 
voiced by poets and Popes, 
152 &n. i 
Pepin, King, translation by, of S. Pet- 

ronilla, 279 

Pergamos, Church of, message of 

Apocalypse to, 168, 169-70 

Pcri-Stephanon, by Prudentius, poems, 

subjects of, 151-2 6w. I, 

cited on forgotten Martyrs, 

287 ; on S. Hippolytus, 


Persecutions of Christians, see also 

Tacitus on 
Active or latent, period of, 163 

&n. 2 
Evidence on, 163 &"nn. i ^2, 

1 64 et seq. 

Beginning, 27-9, 103, 104 
Continuity, 29 et sey., 80, 207, 
and increasing intensity, 80, 
End, 29 
Reasons for, 28, 30, 31, 32, 39 

et seq. 
Reference to, in The Shepherd 

of Hermas, 1 80 et seq. 
Silence of writers as to, reasons 

for, 35 &n. i, 36-7 
Under the Antonines, 80, 8 1, 94 
Decius Aurelius, 97 
Diocletian, 97 ; severity of, 151 
Flavian emperors, 39 et seq. 
Hadrian and his successors, 79, 
80, severity of, 81, 82 
OT M. i, 83, reasons, 91-7 
Nero, 10, 28, 30, 46 n. i, 62, 
104, 164, 167, 172, 190, 
197, 285-6 
of Jews, 346 
Petro or Petros, as basis of name 

Petronilla, 277 
Petro, T. Flavins, founder of Flavian 

family, 277 

Pharisees, 329-30, after the Disper 
sion, 341 
Philemon, S. Paul s Epistle to, 71, 134 


Philip, Emperor, lenient to Christians, 


Philip of Side, on Athenagoras s con 
version, 1 88 & n. I 

Philip, son of S. Felicitas, tomb of, 259 

Fhilippians, Epistle to, see Epistles 

Phoebe of Cenchrea, no 

Physical preparation for Martyrdom 
(see also Schools of Martyr 
dom), 198, 201-3 

Pilgrim Guides (see also Itineraries), 
witness of, to numerousncss 
of Martyrs, 210 

Pilgrims, visits of, to Rome, 209, 216, 
226, 228, 251 ; favourite 
tombs of, 244, 260, 275, 
294, 296, 297 ; traces of, in 
Catacombs, 248, 251 

Pirke Aboth (Sayings of the Fathers), 
339, 340, 362, 365 i 

"Pittacia," the, references in, to 
S. Felicitas and her sons, 

303, 304 

Pius I, Bishop of Rome, or Pope, 264, 
265 n. i ; burial-place of, 
287 ; slave origin of, 136 n. I 
Pius IX, Pope, and the rediscovery of 
the Callistus Catacomb, 246 
Placidia, and the Basilica of S. Paul, 238 
Plato, works of, 146 
Platonia Chamber or Crypt, Cemetery 
of S. Sebastian, temporary 
tomb of SS. Peter and 
Paul, 237, 243 ; tomb of 
S. Sebastian near, 244 
Plautius, 245 
Pliny the Elder, 57 
Pliny the Younger, family career and 

character of, 57-9 

Letters of, in general, described and 
discussed, 59-62 ; features 
of, 71 ; value of, 57 
to Tacitus, 62 

to Trajan, and information in, on 
Christianity, 27, 32, 33, 35 
n. 1,36,45^/^7., 50, 53-5, 
56-7, 60 n. I, 62, 75-8, 103 
&*n. 2, 106, 107, no, 177 
Publication of, 60 n. I 
Summary of, 67 

Trajan s Rescript in reply, 53-4 
Literary followers of, 64-8 

Style of, 60, Renan on, 4 & n. I, 60 
Roman appreciation of, as writer, 


Rules of, ior letter-writers, 67 
Villa of, 60 

on joys of simple living, 88-9; on 
social status of Asiatic 
Christians, no 

Plotina, Empress, and Hadrian, 75 

Plumbatoe, torture of, 295, 300 n. I 

Poems, by Early Christian writers, 

topics of, 151, 152 &n. i 
Pagan, referring to Christianity, 
158 n. i 

Political reasons for Roman attitude 
to Christianity (see also 
Paganism), 28, 30, 31-4, 
39 et seq. 

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, 251, 
scholar of S. John Evange 
list, 73 ; letters of, see 
Epistles ; letters to, of Ig 
natius, 108, 172; Martyr 
dom of, letters on, genuine, 
8 1 n. i ; on Christian 
charity, 125 

Pompey, Consul, 56, first Roman ruler 
of Judea, 329 ; Jerusalem 
taken by, 3 

Pomponia Graecina, identified with 
Lucina of the Crypt, 245 

Pontianus, catacomb of, 211, 235 
Baptistery in, 236 

Pontianus, Bishop of Rome, or Pope, 
martyr, tomb of, 252 

Pontius, on Christian Charity at Car 
thage, 127 

Pontus, Christians in (see also Bithynia), 

45, 50 

Pope, , his ode on S. Cecilia, 
294 ;/. i 

Popes (or Bishops) of Rome (see under 
individual Names, see also 
Papal burial-places), mar 
tyred, tombs of, with other 
Martyrs, 243 

Poppcea, Empress, friendly to Jews, 27 

Porsenna, 87 

Portraits in the Catacombs, 296, 302 

Portus, Bishop of, see S. Hippolytus 
Port of Rome, 235 

Prayers of the Dead, besought by Early 

Christians, 309-10, 311-2 
S. Augustine on, 311, 312 n. I, 321-2 
S. Cyprian on, 312 

Prcetextatus, catacomb of, 242, 246-8, 
259, 262, 295 ; grave (al 
leged) of S. Cecilia in, 293 
n. i ; tomb of S. Januarius 
in, discovery of, 301-2; 
S. Zeno buried in, 276 

Priests as converts, no 

Priscilla (and Aquila), no, 265-6 
Catacomb of, 213, discovery of, 230 

Prisoners, Christian aid to, 130 

Prophets, the, 339, books of, 361, in 
spiration of, Talmud on, 
365 ; Schools of, 343, 349 



Prudentius, poems of, 151, 152 & n. i 

Publius, Prefect of Rome, and the 
martyrdom of S. Felicitas, 

Pudens, burial-place of, 264, 265, 266, 
house, &c. , of, on the Aven- 
tine, legends connecting 
with S. Peter, 12, 15, 263, 
and with S. Paul, 265, 269 ; 
question of his family, 270 ; 
tradition, on him and his 
daughter, 263-5, 2 7 

Pumbeditha, Rabbinic School at, 326, 
354, 357, 358 n. i, 359, 

" QuATUOR Coronati," Saints, burial- 
places of, 249 ; church of, 
ib. t relics in, of S. Hippo- 
lytus, 255 

Quintilian, the earliest Ciceronian, 58 
Quo vadis legend, locality associated 
with, 273, 274 

"RAB," Rabbinic School founded by, 

357 i 

"Rabbi" (Judah Ha-Nasi), famous 
pupil of, 357 n. I ; Talmud 
codification by, 356-7 ; work 
of, on Halachah, 258 n. I, 
372 n. I 

Rabbinic Dicta, on Inspiration, 364-5 

Literature (extra-Talmudic), 360 
Schools (see also Babylonian, and 
Palestinian), 326, 353, 
354-5, 362-3, 368, 372, 
373 ; chief study of, 358 
n. i ; foundation of, 326, 
340, 341 ; influence of, on 
Christian belief, 327, and 
on Christian love of Old 
Testament, 327 ; method of 
teaching, 357-60 ; work of, 
on the Gemara, 344-5 

Rabbinism, famous scholars of (see 
Akiba, Gamaliel, Hillel, 
Meir, " Rab," Rabbi, Sham- 
mai, &c.) nature of, and 
influence of, on Christianity, 
326-7, and on the Jews of 
the Dispersion, 339 ; new 
school of, aims of, 353, 355 ; 
spirit of, adverse to Chris 
tianity, 366 et seq. ; tradi 
tional history of, 339-40 

Rabbis, authority of, as successors to 
the Sanhedrim, 357 ; sup 
porting Bar-cochab, 78, 336, 
354, 355 

Rabbis of the Dispersion, and the Law, 
341, 342-3, books evolved 
by, 343-5 
Raffaelle, painting by, of S. Cecilia, 

294 n i. 

Ramsay, Professor, on the date of 
the ist Epistle of S. Peter, 
8 n. I, 166 n. i ; on the 
date of S. Peter s death, 
1 66 . I ; on Epistles of 
Ignatius as showing con 
temporary conditions of 
Christianity, 173, 174 ; on 
Persecution of Christians as 
a police measure, by Rome, 
31, 32 ; on Pliny s letter, 
46 ; on Roman Emperor as 
"beast" of Apocalypse, 
169 d~. 2; on Roman 
references in the Apocalypse, 
169 n. 2 

Raschi, famous Rabbinist, 369 
Ravenna, 303 ; church of S. Vitale at, 

136 n. i 

Regulus, tortures of, 187 
Relic-hunting in the Catacombs, re 
sults of, 224 
Religious faith of Jews in Rome, first 

century, 4-6 

Renan, E., on the destruction of the 
Temple, 331 n. I ; on 
large numbers of Christian 
martyrs, 82 n. I ; on Oc- 
tavius by Minucius Felix, 
145, 146 ; on persecutions 
between A.D. 134 and 180, 
82 ;/. i ; on Pliny s letter, 
46 & n. i, and on his 
literary style, ib. , 60 ; on 
The Shepherd, of Her 
nias, 1 80 ; on Talmudic 
influence on Christianity, 
370 n. I ; on Trajan as 
persecutor, 49 

Reservoirs or wells, in Catacombs and 
Chapels (see also Baptis 
teries), 256, 263, 264, 267, 
270, 271-2 
Reuchlin, , advocate of the Talmud, 


Rhea Sylvia, 87 
Rigourist School of Christian teaching, 

loi, 144-5, i5- 2 IS3-4 
Rimmon-worship, Naaman s dispensa 
tion concerning, 149 
" Rock, the spiritual, that followed 
them," origin of reference, 

Roman attitude to Christianity, 39 
et seq. 



Roman attitude to Slaves, and to Freed- 

men, 134, 137 ; craving for 

posthumous remembrance, 

59 1,65 

Christians, saluted in S. Paul s 

Epistle to Romans, 17, 21 
Church, the, in early days, classes 

composing, 182, 269-70 
Early importance of, 16, 17, 21 
Founders of (see also S. Paul and 
S. Peter), 7 et seq., 16-19, 
22, 23, 24, 70 
Generosity of, to other Churches, 

Heresies menacing, first century, 

23 & n. I 
Inner life of, information on, from 

the Catacombs, 219 et seq. 
Letter to, of Ignatius, 9 
S. Paul s praise of, 21 
Emperors, divine honours paid 

to, 42 &>u. i, 169, 170 
Empire, numbers of Early Christians 

in great centres of, 106 
of Slaves in, first and second 

centuries, 135 n. 2 
Paganism (?.#.)> interwoven in, 

Literature, dearth of, second to fourth 

century, 63, 67 
Epistolary forms, nature of, after 

Cicero, 56-7 
Letters in, question of influence on 

N.T. writers, 69-72 
Renaissance, in fourth and fifth 

centuries, 64 et seq. 
Myths depicted on coins of Antoninus 

Pius, 87, 90 

Society, Dill s book on, cited, 89 n. I ; 
first and second century, 
Pliny on, 58-60 ; fourth 
century, Symmachus on, 
65 ; fifth century, Sidonius 
on, 67 

Tribute to Christian fortitude, 193 
Rome, see also Popes tinder Names 
Archaeological investigators of, see De 
Rossi, Marchi, Marucchi, 

Basilicas in, third century, 112 
Chief arena of Martyrdom, 175 
Christians in, 16, Assemblies of, 

\\T>et seq. 

Behaviour of, in trial, 180-1 
Estimate of, in third century, 


Life of, 10 1 ct seq. 
Some of high social status, 110-12, 

H7, H9 
Church of, see Roman Church 

Rome (continued] 

Churches in, the most ancient, 263 
Those holding relics of S. Hippo- 

lytus, 255 

Dead, Roman and Christian treat 
ment of (see also Catacombs), 


Devotion to, of the Antonines, 

Earliest founder of, 87 

Fire of, under Nero, 25-6, conse 
quences to Jews and Chris 
tians, 27-30 

Gospel first brought to, tradition on, 
and literary support of the 
same, 7, 8, 9 et seq. 

Hadrian s works in, 76 

Jewish agreements with, under 

Maccabees, 3 
Colonists in, and the Rabbinic 

School, 353 
Sabbath observed in, 3 

Jews in, 3-6, 346 ; expulsion of, 8, 
18, 25 ; Roman attitude to 
beliefs of, 3, 39 ; rulers 
favourable to, 3 

Literary support from, of Petrine 
tradition, 9, 13 

Memorice of the Apostles in, 1 1 

Pagan, Apocalyptic reference to, 

Ramsay on, 169 6 n. I, 170 

Attitude of, to Christianity, 39 et 

seq., reasons for, 89, 91-7 
Religion of, support to, of best 
emperors, 87 et seq. 

Rule of, over Judaea, 329, 340, 
revolts against (see Wars), 
329^^., 342,345, 353 

S. Pauls stay in, 17, .21-24, and 
Martyrdom at, 9 

S. Peter s visits to, probable dates of, 
and events during, 16, 18, 
19 &.!, 24, and Martyr 
dom at, 8 ; burial-place in, 
see Vatican Hill 

Slavery in, 134 

Temple treasures from Jerusalem 

at, 333 &n. 2 

Rome proper, burial-place in, of S. Paul, 
236 ; Catacombs in, Itiner 
aries on, 211-4 

Rome Souteraine, by Allard, cited on 
numerousness of martyrs, 
215 n. I 

Romulus and Remus, 87 
Ruinart, , on the Martyrdom of the 

Theban legion, 148 n. I 
Rusticus, Roman prefect, 94, 104 
Rutilius Namatianus, poem of, on 
Christian misery, 158 



SABBATH, the, non-Jewish observance 
of, Rome, 3 

Sabinilla, burial of S. Valentinus 
by, 276 

Sacrajnentum, of Pliny, 52 

Sadducees, 329, last heard of, 341 

S. Abdon, burial-place of, 235, 236 

S. Achilles, martyr, burial-place and 
tomb of, 211, 240, 241, 278 ; 
story confirmed by excava 
tions, 230 

S. Adauctus, burial - place of, 239 ; 
shrine of, 21 1 

S. Agapetus, deacon and martyr, 301 
&n. I, 302; History of, 
247 ; tomb of 243, 247 

S. Agatha, 294 n. i 

S. Agatopus or Agapetus (q.v.\ martyr 
named in tomb of S. Janu- 
arius, 301 &. I, 302 

S. Agnes, 136, 294 . I ; basilica of, 
Catacombs around, 212-3, 
255 ; burial-place of, identi 
fied, 231 ; martyrdom and 
story of, 256 ; other martyrs 
buried with, 214-5 > urn fj 
258, recently seen, 257 

S. Alexander, burial-place of, 303 

S. Anastasia, 294 n. I 

S. Athanasius, veneration of, for 
Hermas s Shepherd \ 179 

S. Augustine, on asking the prayers of 
the Saints, 311, 312 n. I, 
322 ; on Burial near the 
Saints, 322 ; on S. Laur 
ence, 254 

S. Balbinus, Catacomb of, 239 

S. Barnabas, Apostle, no 

S. Basilissa, see (infra} S. Hermes and 

S. Blandina, slave and martyr, 136, 
pain unfelt by, 200 

S. Calepodius, catacomb of, 234 

S. Callistus, later, Pope, custodian of 

cemeteries, 245, 291 
Catacomb of, 242, 244-6 ; Crypt of 
S. Cecilia in, 290-1, 293 
n. I ; discovery of, 246 ; 
Lucina area of, antiquity of, 
266 ; Papal burial-place or 
Crypt in (y.v.), 287, 291, 
why chosen, 273 

S. Castulus, martyr, catacomb of, 249 

S. Cecilia, church of, Rome, 292 et see/., 

her body in, 294, 297 
Crypt or burial-place of, 211, 246 
6w. i, 290 et seq. ; dis 
covery of, 231 ; other 
martyrs buried in, 214, 243 ; 
rediscovery of, 289 et seq. 
Martyr relatives of, 247 


S. Cecilia (continued) 
Story of, 290 et seq. 
Translation of, 294, 297 
S. Chrysanthus and S. Daria, Basilica 
of, sons of S. Felicitas laid 
near, 303 ; site of their 
martyrdom, 260, tragedy 
at, 261 

S. Chrysostom, on A msgiving, 122 
S. Clement of Rome, Pope, 104, 179 

&-. i, 315 

Book on, by Bishop Lightfoot, 19 
n. I, 121 n. I, cited on 
Petrine tradition, 10 
Epistles of, see under Epistles 
Ordination of, by S. Peter, tradition 

on, ii 
Tradition on his Apostolic teachers, 

on Almsgiving, 121 &n. i, 124, 126; 
on Assemblies, 108 ; on care 
for widows and orphans, 
126 ; on Christians accused 
of firing Rome, 27 ; on 
Christ s Atonement, 115 ; 
on the deaths of S. Peter 
and of S. Paul, 171 ; on 
early persecutions, 37, 165, 
170-2 ; on hospitality, 128 ; 
on numbers of Christians, 
104 & n. i, at Rome, 106 ; 
on progress of Christianity, 
107 ; on S. Peter s martyr 
dom, 9 

S. Constantia, church of, origin of, 263 
S. Cornelius, other martyrs buried 

with, 214-5 

S. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and 
martyr, 149, 193, 315, 319 
n. I ; and his congregation, 
charity of, 123, 127 

Death of, 146 

Flight of, 147 

Letter of, ad Thibaritanos, a martyrs 
manual, 199 

Teaching of, 139 

Writers on, cited, see Benson, and 

on Almsgiving 121-2 ; on Cartha 
ginian generosity to other 
"hurches, 131 ; on the 
Dead as concerned for the 
Living, 312; on Death, 155 ; 
on Hospitality. 128) on 
insensibility of Martyrs to 
pain, 200 ; on Martyrs 
training, 198 ; on Perse 
cutions (third century), 37 
S. Cyriaca, burial - place,, of, 212, 
2 5 . S K 




S. Daria, once a Vestal, site of her 

martyrdom, 260, 303 
S. Denis, Abbey of, ashes of S. Hip- 
poly tus at, 255 
S. Domitilla, Basilica of, 257 
S. Emerenliana, slave and martyr, 136, 
burial-place of, 255, 257, 
identified, 231 
Catacomb of, 255 
Urn of, 258, recently seen, 257 
S. Epimachus, catacomb of, 249 
S. Felicissimus, martyr, 301, 302 ; 
history of, 247 ; tomb of, 
243. 247 
S. Felicitas, slave and martyr, 136, 

206, 272, 294 ;/. I 

Catacomb of, her tomb in a 
basilica over, 213, 259, 
discovered, 260, 302 
Martyr sons of, and their tombs, 213, 
248, discovered by De Rossi, 
231 &>n. I 

Story of, 258, confirmed by arche 
ology, 259-60, 298 et seq. 
Translation of, 259, 302 
on Insensibility to pain, 200 
S. Felix (and S. Adauctus), burial- 
place of, 239 

S. Felix, cemetery of, 211, 235-6 
S. Felix, son of S. Felicitas, tomb 
of, 259, 266, 272, 274, 302-3 
S. Felix, other martyrs buried with, 

S. Felix of Nola, martyr, church of, 

at Nola, 321 ; poems on, 

152 . i 
S. Flavian, Vision of, cited, on Martyrs 

insensibility to pain, 200 
S. Gall, "sylloge" in library of, 230 
S. Genesius, martyr, once an actor, 

tomb of, 251 

S. Gordianus, catacomb of, 249 
S. Gregory Nazianzen, on unity of 

martyrs, 285 

S. Gregory of Tours, on the group- 
martyrdom at tomb of SS. 

Chrysanthus and Daria, 261 
S. Helena, Empress, cross of, laid on 

S. Peter s sarcophagus, 282 ; 

tomb of, 249 
S. Hermes, translation of, 275 

and S. Basilissa, catacomb of, 


S. Hippolytus (of Portus), n, 151 ; 
catacomb and basilica of, 
250-5, 262, discovery of, 
by De Rossi, 251, 254 

Churches dedicated to, or connected 
with, 254-5 

Lightfoot cited on, 251-2 

S. Hippolytus (continued) 
Pupil of Irenoeus, 251 
Relics of, 255 
Statue of, 252 

Tomb of, 251, Prudentius on, 252-4 
Translation of, 254 
S. Hyacinthus, martyr, tomb of, 275 
S. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and 
martyr, 315 ; Epistle of, 
see Epistles ; Martyrdom 
desired by, 37, no, 154, 
204-5, date of, 73 

cited in support of Petrine tradi 
tion, 9, 13 

on Assemblies, 1 08; on Christ s Atone 
ment, 115 ; on his yearning 
for Martyrdom, 204-5 > on 
influential Christians at 
Rome, no; on persecutions, 
37, 165, 172-6 ; on progress 
of Christianity, 107 ; on 
Roman generosity, 131 
S. James, Epistle of, see under Epistles 
S. Januarius, 298 n. I, 304, martyr 
dom of, 300 n. I ; burial- 
place and tomb of, 243, 248 
6. I, 301-2, discovery of, 
231, veneration of, 259 
S. Jerome, Catalogue of Roman Bish 

ops by, 14, 15 

on S. Agnes, 256 ; on S. Peter s 
date of arrival in Rome, 
14; on The Shepherd, of 
Hermas, 179 
S. John, Evangelist, 62, 251 

Apocalypse of, 37, 156-7, 165, 167-70 
Death of, 103, 114, 118, 165 
Epistles of, see under Epistles 
Martyrdom of, 1 1 
Polycarp s anecdotes of, 73 
Prominence of, in Asia Minor, 9 
S. Justus, martyr, tomb of, 250 
S. Laurence, 254, basilica and tomb 
of, 250, 257, martyrs buried 
under, 212 

Churches dedicated to, 250, 254 
S. Lucia, 294 n. I 

S. Marcellinus, see S. Peter and, infra 
S. Marcus, catacomb of, 239 
S. Mark, Gospel of, source and place 

of origin, 10, 14 
Relations of, with S. Peter, 9, 10, 

14, 22 
S. Martialis, son of S. Felicitas, tomb 

of, 259, 303 
S. Martin of Tours, 136 
S. Martinianus, see (infra] S. Pro- 

cessus and 

S. Matthew, Gospel of, 10, as Martyrs 
Manual, 200 &. I, 201 



S. Maurice and the Theban Legion, 
legend of martyrdom of, 
148 n. I 

S. Maximus, Roman officer and martyr, 
290, basilica of, and history 
of, 247 ; catacomb of, 259 ; 
tomb of, 242, 293 . I, 295 
S. Nereus, martyr, burial-place of, 21 1, 
240, 241, 278; story con 
firmed by excavations, 230 
S. Nicomedes, catacomb of, special 

features of, 255-6 
S. Oswald and S. Wulfstan, 321 
S. Pamphilus, martyr, catacomb of, 

S. Pancratius or Pancras, catacomb of, 

234, 235 

Churches of, Rome, &c., 235 
S. Parnel,Petronell, or Petronilla (q.v.), 
British churches dedicated 
to, 278-9 

S. Paul, 239, 269, 273 ; association 
with, of Pudens, 265, and 
see 270 

Basilica of, n, 17, 18, 238 
Christology of, 23-4 
Cultural status of, 1 10 
Epistles ,of, see tinder Epistles 
Haggadic influences in writings of, 


Hermas named by, the Hermas of 
The Shepherd ?, 178 

at Rome as prisoner, 21-2, secondary 
place accorded by tradition 
and literature, 9, II, 13-14. 
17 ; share in founding 
Roman Church, 17, 22, 23, 
24, 70, 104; trial of, 25, 
and martyrdom, 9, 10, II, 
151,1152, 170, 171; burial- 
places of, 211, 236, 237, 
242, 243, 283 ; sarcophagus 
of, slabs of, inscription on, 
and other features, 237-8 ; 
sepulchre of, 242, 243 

Teaching of, keynote of, where 
found, 23-4; locale of, 107 

Tomb of freedman friend of, among 
royal graves, 241-2 

Translation of, 237 

on Almsgiving to Christian Churches, 
120 n. i, 130; on Assem 
blies, 107 ; on Athletic 
training, 198; on Charity, 
1 22, 1 30 ; on Death, 1 54 ; on 
Enduring hardness, 202-3 ; 
on Hospitality, 129 ; on the 
Roman Church, 17, 21 ; on 
Slavery, 134-5 ; on Spread 
of Christianity, 107 

S. Paulinus of Nola, 158, letter of, to 

Sulpicius Severus, on his 

slave, 136-7 ; poems of, 

152 n. I ; question of, to 

S. Augustine, 31271.1, 321-2 

S. Perpetua and her companions, 294 

;/. i, martyrdoms of, 200, 

208, genuine accounts of, 

8 1 n. i ; pain unfelt by, 200 

S. Peter, Apostle and Martyr, First 

Bishop of Rome (see also 

S. Petronilla), 226, 269 

Associations of, with Catacomb of 

S. Priscilla, 257, 263, 267, 


with S. Mark, 9, IO, 14, 22 
with Pudens, 12, 15, 263, 265, and 

see 269-70 
Baptistery of, site of, 12, 257, 267, 

Book on by Barnes, cited, 281 n. I 

et seq. 
Catacomb of, and of S. Marcel- 

linus, 249 

Founder of Church in Bithynia, 51 
Founder of Church at Rome, tradi 
tion, archaeological, and 
literary support to the belief, 
7 et seq., 16, 19,22,70, 104 
in Rome, 18, 24, date of arrival 
discussed, 8, u, 13 et seq., 
1 6 ; martyrdom of, 8, 10, 
16, 18, 19, 151, 153, 170, 
171, 233, 234, date and site 
of, 166 w.i, 267; burial- 
places, and tomb of, 49, 
273 ; Bishops of Rome 
buried around, 16, 23, 233 
& n. 1 , 279-88 ; sarcophagus 
of, adorned by Constantine, 
237, 282-3 ; traditional 
notices of, legendary with 
historical basis and other, 
15, 16; translation of, 237 
Quo vadis legend on, 239, 273, 274 
Teaching of, catholicity of, 367 
on hospitality, 129 ; on locale of 
Asiatic converts, 107 ; on 
persecution, 165, 166-7 > on 
slavery, 135; on spread of 
the faith, 107 
S. Peter and S. Marcellinus, catacomb 

of, 249 
S. Peter Chrysologus, laudation by, ot 

S. Felicitas, 305 

S. Peter s (Basilica), Rome, 8, 233, 
238 ; martyrs buried be 
neath, 210, 285 ; origin of, 
and former representatives 
of, 233, 238 



S. Peter s (Basilica) (continued] 
Reason of its position, 1 1 ; site of, 
associations of, 28 ; venera 
tion shown to, 17, 1 8 
S. Petronilla (see also S. Parnel), 
daughter of S. Peter, 240, 
241, hypotheses on, dis 
cussed, 277-8 
Basilica of, 241, 278 
Burial-place of, 211, 240-1, 277 
Translation of, 279 
S. Philip, burial-place of, 266, 272, 274, 

S. Philippus (S. Philip), other martyrs 

buried with, 214-5 

S. Prassedis (see also S. Pudentiana), 
burial-place of, 263, 264-5, 
266, 268 

Catacomb founded by, 270 
Church of, 262, Zeno chapel in, 
mosaics of, 276, relics in, 
262-3, well in, 263 

S. Priscilla, mother of Pudens, Cata 
comb of, 8, 258, 261 et seq., 
266 ; antiquity, size, and 
importance of, 236, 240, 257, 
261 ; associations of, with 
S. Peter, 12, 257, 263, 267, 
271-3; baptistery in, 236; 
Basilica of S. Sylvester 
over, 257, 273 ; called " ad 
Nymphas," and why, 272 ; 
chief glory of, 257 ; De 
Rossi on, 262 ; evidence of 
discoveries in, on tradition 
of S. Peter as founder of 
Roman Church, 8, 15, 16, 
42, 267, 268, 271 ; founders 
of, 270 : galleries and other 
features of, 267 et seq. ; in 
scriptions in, 267, 268, 271 ; 
notable interments in, 266, 

Church of, 262 
Original tomb of, 268 
S. Processus and S. Martinianus, cata 
comb of, 234 ; story of, 234 
S. Protus, martyr, tomb of, 275 
S. Pudentiana (see also supra, S. Pras 
sedis), burial-place of, 263, 
264, 266, 268 ; sarcophagus 
of, 263 
Church of, 262, antiquity and interest 

of, 263 et seq. 

Part founder of S. Priscilla s cata 
comb, 270 
S. Quirinus, Crypt of, 247 ; history 

of, ib. 

S. Riquier, "syllogce" in library of, 

S. Sebastian (ad Catacombas), cata 
comb of, 237, 242, 243-4 ; 
memories of SS. Peter and 
Paul connected with, 273 ; 
story of, 244; translation 
of, 244 

S. Sennen, burial-place of, 235, 236 

S. Silanus, burial-places of, 259, 302 ; 
body once stolen, 304; 
translation of, 302 

S. Silvester in Capite, Church, body of 
S. Hippolytus translated 
to, 254 

S. Simferosa, tomb of, 250 

S. Soteris, virgin, martyr, catacomb 
of, 239, 242, 243, 246 

S. Stephen, protomartyr, no; and 
S. Laurence, parallel posi 
tions of, 234 

S. Suzanna, church of, 302, final 
resting-place of S. Felicitas, 
259 &> n. I 

S. Sylvester, Pope, Basilica erected by, 
266 6w. I ; notoriety of, 
272 ; Popes buried in, 
272-4; saintly remains in, 
213, 266 &n. I, 272, 
302-3 ; site of, 257, 266 
&n. I, 270, 272, 273 
Burial-place of, 272 

S. Symphorosa, burial-place of, 212 

S. Tertullinus, catacomb of, 249 

S. Thekla, catacomb of, 236, 239 

S. Thomas Aquinas, 319 n. I 

S. Tiburtius, martyr, Basilica of, 247 ; 
relation of, to S. Cecilia, 
290 ; tomb of, 293 . I, 295 

S. Urban, martyr, tomb of, 242-3 

S. Urbanus, Bishop (not of Rome), and 
S. Cecilia, 290, 296 

S. Valentinus, martyr, 262 ; catacomb 
of, 214, 275-6, basilica 
in, 276 

S. Valerianus, husband of S. Cecilia, 
martyr, 290, 292, 294 n. I ; 
tomb of, 242, 247, 293 n. I, 

S. Vitale, a slave-martyr, Church of, 

Ravenna, 136 n. I 
S. Vitalis, son of S. Felicitas, tomb 

of, 259, 303 
S. Zeno, Basilica of, 247 ; burial-place 

of, 262, 276 ; Chapel of, 

276, treasures in, 262-3 
Saintly persons, power of, over wild 

creatures, 176 &*n. I 
Saints, Communion of, Early Christian 

view on, 307, 309-10 
Dead, invocation of, and prayers of, 

besought, Early Christian 



Saints (continued) 

attitude as to, 309-10, 311, 
312 &*n. i, 321-2 
Desire for burial near, S. Augustine 

on, 312 . i, 321-2 
Salii, College of, M. Aurelius, a 

member, 95 

Salzburg Itinerary cited, 21 1, 212, 214, 

242-3, 302, 303; date of, 227 

Samuel, prophet, and the Schools of 

the Prophets, 349 

Sanhedrim, the Great, authority of, 
successors in, after Disper 
sion, 357, 360 

Sanhedrim treatise, in Talmud, 343 n. I 
Sarcophagi, Christian, Lateran Museum, 
and S. Peter s escape from 
Prison, 19 n. I 

Sardinia, exiles and martyrs in, 252 
Sardis, 187 

Saturninus, catacomb of, 258, 260 
Schools of Martyrdom, 145 ; methods 
of, 197, 198 &>. i et sey., 
writers on, 198 et seq. 
of the Prophets, 349 
of Teaching, Early Christian 

Practical, and Gentle, 101, 145-50 
Rigourist, 101, 144-5, 1 S~ 2 
Scillitan martyrdoms, 94, 208, Acts of 

martyrs genuine, 81 n. I 
Scorpiace, by Tertullian, 121 . i, a 
martyrs manual, 199 ; 
S. Paul cited in, on Martyr 
dom, 202, 203 6 n. I 
Scribes, the, and their duties, 341, 343 

&* 3, 350.35I. 3?i 
Second Century, congregations of 
Christians in, locales of, 36 
Seligenstadt, S-S. Peter and Marcellinus 

bodies at, 249 

Selinus, death at, of Trajan, 87 
Senate, the, decadence of, 64-5 
Seneca, letters by, see tinder Epistles 
Possible reference by, to Nero s 

burning of Christians, 29 
Sentius Augurinus, a lengthy recital 

by, 6 1 

Sepphoris, Rabbinic school at, 358 n. I 
Serenus Granianus, Rescript to, of 

Hadrian, on Christians, 77 
Sergius Paulus, no 
Sevevus, , Emperor, persecution under, 

reason for, 194 

Severus, Alexander, Emperor, 234, 
252, and the Jews, 333 n. i ; 
leniency of, to Christians, 97, 
and supposed Christianity 
of, 147 

Septimius (historian), on Nero s anti- 
Christian Edict, 32 

Severus (continued) 
Sextus Julius (General), operations of, 

in Judea, 337 
Sulpicius, letter to, of Paulinus of 

Nola, on his slave, 136-7 
on destruction of the Temple, 331 
&n. I, 332; on Titus s 
speech against Jewish and 
Christian religions, 39-40 
Sfondrati, Cardinal, finder of the bodies 
of S. Cecilia, 294 &n. i, 
297, and of her husband, 
&c., 295 

Shammai, a Rabbi, 366 
Shema invocation, 355 n. I 
Shemoth Rabba, treatise, cited, 365 
Shepherd (Pastor), The, of Hermas, 
136 . I, discussed, 178-9 
& n. i, 180; reasons of its 
popularity, 183 n. i ; the 
ology of, 138, 179, 182-3 > 
on care of widows, &c., 126 ; 
on Christ s Atonement, 1 1 6 ; 
on Christian charity, 124 
CTW. I, 125 ; on hospitality, 
128 ; on the martyrs and 
the recusants, 36, 37 ; on 
numbers of Christians, 104 ; 
on persecutions, 180-4 > on 
progress of Christianity, 
107 ; on rich Christians, ill 
Sicarii, the, 330 
Sick, the, care of, by Early Church, 


Side, 1 88 & n. i 

Sidonius, Apollinaris, family, career, 
and writings of, 64, 65-7, 68 
Simon the Just, 339 
Simon Magus in Rome, 1 1 
Sinai, 365 

Siricius, Pope, Basilicas built and 

adorned by, &c., 235, 241, 

263, 278 ; burial-place 

of, 272 

Sixtus I, Pope and martyr, 247 ; 

burial-place of, 243, 287 
Sixtus II, Pope, deacons of, martyred, 
302 ; and S. Laurence, 
250, 254 

Sixtus in, Basilica built by, to 
S. Laurence, 250 ; work of, 
at S. Cecilia s crypt, 292 
Sixtus v, Pope, Church of S. Suzanna 

built for, 259 ;/. I 
Slavery, England s crusade against, 

Lecky on, 135 n. i 

Slaves, Christian, freed by advice of 
Pope Pius I, 264 ; posi 
tion and condition of, 134 
et seq. 



Slaves, numbers of, Roman Empire, 
first two centuries, Ozanam 
on, 135 n. 2 

Smyrna, 173 

Social life and pleasures, difficulties in, 

of Early Christians, 141 
Status of Early Christians, literary 
testimony to its range, 

Solomon, King, 352 

Soter, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 10, 
131 ; on numbers of Chris 
tians at Rome, 104 & n. 2, 
I 06, 107 

Spartianus, historian, 75 

Stanley, Dean, on a child s Epitaph in 
the Abbey, 309 ; on early 
Christianity, 318 . 2, 319 
& n. I ; on the witness of 
the Catacombs to the life 
of the Early Church, 219-20 

Statius, 59 n. i 

Stephen, Bishop or Pope of Rome, 131 

Suetonius, history by, 60, 62, 63, 269, 
on Christians accused of 
firing Rome, 27 ; on Domi- 
tian s persecutions, 41 ; on 
Jewish expulsion from 
Rome, and its cause, 18 ; 
on Neronic persecution, 62 ; 
on Vespasian s attitude to 
Christians, 40 

Sura, Rabbinic School at, 326, 327, 
344, 346, 358 ;/. i, 359, 
373 ; founder of, 357 &> n. l 

"Syllogce" of Early Christian Inscrip 
tions, where found, 230 

Sylloge Pales tina, the, 215 

Symmachus, Memmius, and his father s 
Letters, 65 

Symmachus, Pope, 60 n. I, Council 
held by, 262 

Symmachus, Q. Aurelius, career of, 
and writings (Letters) of, 
64-5, 66 

Syria, Vespasian s legions in, 331 

TACITUS, History of, 60, 61, 62 

Lost Book of, on Titus s destruc 
tion of the Temple, 39, 331 
&n. I, 332 

Period of, 63 

Pliny s letter to, 92 

on Christianity, progress of, 107 ; on 
Christians accused of firing 
Rome, 27 ; on Christians of 
high station, no; on 
conversion of Pomponia 
Groecina, 245 ; on numbers 
of Christians, 103, 107 

Tacitus (continued) 

on Jewish fecundity, 5 n. i ; on the 

persecutions, 36, 46 . i, 

62, 103, 177, 208 ; on 

Roman simplicity, 88 

Talmud, the, see also Mishnah and 


Akiba s work on, 354-6 
and the Jew (Book V.), 325 et seq. 
Authority of, 368-9 
Codification of, workers on, 356-7 
Divine inspiration claimed for, 365 
History of, traditional, 339-40 
Influence of, on Christianity, 326, 

327, 348, 370 &n. i 
on the Jews of the Dispersion, 
339, 340, 346-7, 353, 368, 
Jewish devotion to, 326, 327, 347, 

350, 368-9 
Materials, origin and founders of, 

348 <?/**/., 358 . I, 360 
Meaning of term, 358 n. I 
Object of, 345 
Popularity of, cause of, 371 
Power of, 346-7 

Recensions of, 344, 345, 359, 373 
Story of, 365-6 
Teaching of, differences in, from 

that of Christ, 366-8 
Method of, 357-60 
Spirituality of, 345, 352 
on Inspiration of Pentateuch and 

of the Prophets, 364-5 
on Miracles, 365 

on Bar-cochab, 336-7, and on Rabbi 
Akiba, 355 ; on the last 
war of the Jews, 98, 338 
&n. i, and oji destruction 
of the Temple, 332 
Tannaim, the, 344, 358 n. i 
Targumim,the,36o; Haggadic pieces in, 

373, excerpts from, 373-5 
Tarquinius Priscus, 87 
Taylor, Dr., on Rabbinic dicta, 365 n. I 
Teaching and doctrine, Early Chris 
tian Assemblies, 113-4; 
ground-work of, 115-9; as 
met with in the Catacombs, 
220, 309 et seq. , 312 & . I, 
315, Vbctstq. 

Telesphorus, Pope, burial-place of, 287 

Temple, the, of Jerusalem, destruction 

of, 22, 331-4, 340 tt seq., 

355, 362, 368, the end of 

Mosaism, 341 

Stones of Wailing all that is left 

of, 338 

Treasures from, in Rome, 333 
, 351 



Temple (continued) 

Women s Court in, 380 
of Peace, Rome, 333 n. 2 
Tenth Legion, at Jerusalem, 332 
Tertullian, 151, 204, 315 

Rigourism of, 146, 151, 153-4, 

179, 182 

Silent as to Vespasian, 40 n. 3 
Teaching of, 138 
Writings of : 

ad Uxor, on Hospitality, 128 
Apology of, resemblances between, 
and Octavius jof Minucius 
Felix, 1 86 

Martyrs Manuals, 199 
Scorpiace, 121 . i, S. Paul cited 

in, 202, 203 & n. i 
Treatise on Idolatry, 144 n. i, 
on training for Martyr 
dom, 203 

cited in support of Petrine tradition, 
10-11, 13, 14 ; on aid to 
prisoners, 130; on alms 
giving, 1 2O ; on burying 
the poor, 132, 133 ; on 
Christ with the Kid, 319, 
320 ; on Christian love, 
119; on highly placed 
Christians, III, 147, 149; 
on idol- worship, 144 n. I ; 
on insensibility of martyrs 
to pain, 200 ; on numbers of 
Christians in the second 
century, 104, 105 ; on 
penalty of being a Christian, 

197 or 3 w.l, and on enduring 
hardness, 153-4; on perse 
cutions, 32, 36, 37, 190-1 ; 
on physical training for 
martyrdom, 198, 202-3 
on Pliny s correspondence 
with Trajan, 45, 46, and on 
inconsistencies in Trajan s 
Rescript, 55 

Testaments of the XII Patriarchs, on 

Almsgiving, 121 
Theban Legion, martyrdom of, legend 

of, 148 . I 
Theodelinda, and the Monza Catalogue 

(q.v.\ 214-5, 228 > 304 
Theodosius, Emperor, 253 ; and the 

Basilica of S. Paul, 238 ; 

Latin writers of his period ,64 
Theophitus, Bishop of Antioch, on 

assemblies, 108-9 5 on per 
secution, 189-90 
Thibaritanos, Ad, letter by S. Cyprian, 

198 n. 2, 199 

Thirty-nine Articles, the, 319 n. I 
Thrason, Catacombs of, 258, 260 

Tiber, the, Catacombs beside, Itiner 
aries on, 210-14 ; S. Peter s 
baptisms in, II, 14 

Tiberias, Rabbinic School at, 326, 327, 
method, study, and work 
at, 344, 346, 357, 35& n. I 
Tibur, Hadrian s Villa near, 82 
Tiburtius, martyr, tomb of, 242 
Tigellinus, evil counsel of, to Nero, 27 
Tillemont, , 289 ; on the Acts of 
S. Felicitas, 300 ; on the 
martyrdom of the Theban 
Legion, 148 n. i 
Titus, Bishop of Crete, Epistle of 

S. Paul to, on slavery, 135 
Titus, Emperor, 85, 325 ; persecution 
under, 172, 173, 174, and 
see 207 
Siege by, of Jerusalem and triumph 

after, 331-4, 351, 352 
Views of, on Jewish and Christian 

religions, 39 

Toleration, advocated by some Early 
Christians, De Broglie 
on, 142-3 

Torah, the, 330, 341, 351, 352, 370 ; 
additions, directions, ex 
planations made to (see 
also ttndcr Names), 343 
&nn. i &2 et seq. 
Haggadic notices on, from Pales 
tinian Targum, 373~5 
Halachic developments of, 376-7 
History of, 339 

Inspiration claimed for, 343, 364 
Mishnah and Gemara built up 

on, 361 

Post-exilic reverence for, 342 et seq. 
Schools devoted to study of (see also 

Rabbinic Schools), 326 
Temple-copy of, in Rome, 333 6 . 2 
Torre Pignatara, tomb of S. Helena 

at, 249 

Trade, difficulties in, of Early Chris 
tians, 141 

Tradition, rehabilitated by Archaeology, 
105, 225-6, 230-1, 239-40, 
241, 289, 293, 298, 304 
on S. Peter as founder of Roman 
Christianity, 7, 8 ; literary 
and archaeological support 
to, 8, 9 et seq. 

Trajan, Emperor, no, 164, 171, 172, 
182; attitude to, of Christian 
historians, 48-9 

Characteristics of, 49-50, 55, 85 
Death of, and successor, 75 
Pliny s letter to, 27, 32, 35 n. I, 43, 
45 et seq., 56, 103 &n. 2, 



Trajan (continued) 

Pope Gregory the Great s prayer 

for, 49 

Principles of, as to Christians, 78, 97 
Rescript of, in reply to Pliny, 45 et 
*7; 56, 57, 177; effect of, 
1 80, provisions of, 49-50 ; 
publication of, 60 w. I ; Ter- 
tullian s criticisms on, 55 ; 
views of scholars cited on, 49 
Social life of his time, 89 
Zealot revolt under, 334 
Translation of remains of Martyrs and 
Saints, 235, 236, 262, 263, 
266 & . I, 267, 272, 
273-4, 292, 298 
Trastevere Quarter, Catacombs in, 

Itineraries on, 210-11 
Tridentine Catechism, the, 319 . I 
Trinity, Blessed, references to, in Cata 
combs, 316 

Triumvirate, proscription of, 56 
"Tropaeum," the, probable identifica 
tion of, 282 

UBALDI, Canon of S. Peter s, on 
discoveries during erection 
of Bernini s baldachino, 281 
& n. i et seq. 

Uhlhorn, , views of, on Trajan s 
Rescript, 49 

Urban vin, Pope, and the discovery of 
S. Peter s sarcophagus, 233 
. I, 280 et seq. ; epigram 
on, 280 

Urbanus, Bishop (not of Rome), and 
S. Cecilia, 290 

Urbanus, Bishop of Rome, 290 

Uxor, Ad, by Tertullian, 128 

VALENTINIAN n, Emperor, and the 
Basilica of S. Paul, 238 

Valentinus, the Gnostic, 112 n. I 

Valerian, Emperor, favour shown by, to 
Christians, 147 ; persecution 
under, 243, 247, 256, 275 

Vatican Basilica, the, 293 

Hill, Cemetery on, 243, 272-3 ; be 
ginning of, 280, 285, 286 ; 
"Itinerary" on, 210; re 
discovery of, 280 
Papal tombs and Crypt of, 234, 
236-7, 242, 244, 245 et 
seq. ; Popes buried in, 16, 
233. 273, 283, 284, 286-7 
S. Peter s tomb in, 16, 232, 

233, 237 

Gardens on, martyrdoms in, 28, 
29, 30, 32 ; site of S. Peter s 
death, 267 

Vatican Hill, "Memorise" of Apostles 

on, ii, 233 
Vergil, poems by, 87, 88, 91, teaching 

of, 88, 95 
Verus, son of /Elius Verus, adopted by 

Antoninus Pius, 83 

Vespasian, Emperor, 33 ; attitude of, 
to Christianity, 39-40 &- ., 
207, difficulties with the 
Jews, 92 

Persecution under, 172, 173, 174 
Roman characteristics of, 85 
Siege by, of Jerusalem, 330-1 
Temple of Peace built by, 333 . 2 
Triumph of, 333 

Vestibule of Domitilla Cemetery, 240 
Via Appia, catacombs of, 211-12, 234, 

237, 242 et seq.,iQi 

Ardeatina, catacombs of, 21 1, 

239-42 ; excavations in, 

value of, to history, 239-40 

Aurelia or Aurelia Vetus, catacombs 

along, 210-11, 233-5 
Flaminia, catacomb of, 214, 275-6 
Labicana, catacombs of, 212, 249 
Latina, catacombs of, 212, 248-9 
Nomentana, catacombs of, 212-3, 

Ostiensis, catacombs on, 21 1, 236-9, 


Portuensis, catacombs on, 211, 235-6 
Salaria, catacombs of, rediscovery 

of, 223 er 5 n. i 

Cemetery of S. Priscilla on, 12 
Salaria Nova, catacombs of, 213, 

258^5^., 302, 303 
Salaria Vetus, catacombs of, 213, 


Tiburtina, catacombs of, 212, 250-5 
Vaticana, catacombs of, 210 
Victor, Pope, burial-place of, 287 
Vienne, martyrdoms at, 201, 208; 

persecution at, by M. Aure- 

lius, 94 

Vigilius, Pope, burial-place of, 272 
Viminal Hill, church on, 262 
Vision of S. Flavian, on Insensibility 

of Martyrs to Pain, 200 
Vision, The, of Perpetua, 199 
Vitellius, Emperor, 39, 331 

"WAR of Extermination," the, 338 
Wars of the Jews, the three last, 77, 

78-9, So, 325, 329 et seq., 

338, 354 
Westcott, Bishop, on date of letter to 

"Diognetus," 178 n. i 
Westminster Abbey, epitaph of Jane 

Lister in, 309 
Westminster Confession, 319 n. i 



Whepstead, church of S. Parnel at, 278 
Widows and orphans, care of Early 

Church for, 124, 126 
William of Malmesbury, Itinerary of, 

on Roman Catacombs, 2IO, 

211, 213 

Authority of, 210, 213, 227 
Date of, 227 
on S. Cecilia s tomb, 293 ; on 

S. Felicitas and her sons 

and their tombs, 303 
Wiseman, Cardinal, 263 
Women, Christ s teaching on, and the 

Talmudic contrasted, 367 

&n. I ; Court of, in the 

Temple, 380 
Worcester, two Saints of, 321 

Wordsworth, W., poem of, on S. Ce 
cilia, 294 n. I 

Worship (see also Assemblies, Idol- 
worship, Incense), in Chris 
tian Assemblies, Justin 
Martyr on, 113-4 

Wulphere, King of the Mercians, 279 

XIPHILIN or Xiphilinus, on Domitian, 
41 ; on Hadrian, 75 

ZEALOTS, Rabbinic masters un 
sympathetic to, 342, 353, 
354 ; revolts of, and re 
sults, 330-1, 332, 334-5 

Zephyrinus, Pope, martyr, n, tomb 
of, 243, 245, 273, 291 

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